Knocking on Europe’s door: how narratives of fear, safety and nostalgia shape collective perceptions of immigration

TCELT Seminar
Knocking on Europe’s door: how narratives of fear, safety and nostalgia shape collective perceptions of immigration

Presenter: Dr Anna Notaro, Contemporary Art Practice, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design
Date/Time: 21 February 2018, 15:30 – 17:30
Venue: TBC

The presentation starts by reviewing historical and cultural imagery of the “ideal” Europe, including the utopianism of the EU project reflected in the Ventotene Manifesto (1944) before discussing literary examples that have eerily foreshadowed current public discussions about European values and the threat posed to “our way of life” by immigrants and refugees. The texts to be considered include The Camp of the Saints (Le Camp des Saints), a 1973 French apocalyptic novel by Jean Raspail depicting a not too distant future when mass migration to the West leads to the destruction of Western civilisation and Michel Houellebecq’s Soumission (2015), which features the election of an Islamist to the French presidency, against the backdrop of a general disintegration of Enlightenment values in French society.

The presentation will then highlight how the narratives of fear typical of the dystopic prefigurations considered above have found new vigour online and, in particular, in the visual propaganda of the Brexit Leave campaign. It concludes by examining alternative narratives to the dominant one of fear, as exposed in films such as Terraferma (2011) and Fire at Sea (2016) both set in the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.


Anna is SL in contemporary media theory at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, where she is the E&D/AthenaSWAN Lead and joint coordinator of PhD Studies. She has always worked across disciplinary boundaries combining an interest for literary analysis and critical theory (her PhD specialism is in English Literature) with a broad Cultural Studies approach. Over the past ten years, she has focused on (urban) visual culture and digital media. Her research outputs reflect her intellectual eclecticism, in fact she has published widely in the field of digital culture tackling topics as diverse as: the blogosphere, collective authorship, cinema & new technology, digital celebrity, electronic textuality (how networked communication has affected storytelling), the 'future of the book' and nostalgia in the (post)digital age.