Asylum spaces: hunger strike and the disappearing immigrants

Walsh, Aylwyn and Tsilimpounidi, Myrto (2012) Asylum spaces: hunger strike and the disappearing immigrants. In: Asylum and Displacement in the Twenty-First Century: Performing Community, Crisis and Belonging, 19-20 April 2012, RHUL.

Asylum and Displacement 2012_Programme.pdf
Asylum and Displacement 2012_Programme.pdf - Additional Metadata

Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


The paper analyses a large-scale hunger strike act, performed by 300 immigrants staged in the Law School building in Athens in January 2011. In order to unpack the complexities of such a performance, the researcher’s own position as occupying overlapping roles as witness, audience, researcher, artist is explored. The starting point of analysis is the socio-political context in Athens which prepares the stage for that performance. The Law School building is introduced in order to critically reflect on the ‘academic asylum’ state and the multiple meanings of being in a space always already inscribed by powerful social memories, drawing on Lefebvre’s work on the social production of space and the power of remapping. To remap means to engage into a compelling negotiation of space, stereotypes, feelings and practices such as inclusion, recognition and openness. Hunger strike is examined as a means of practicing resistance and as a spectacle, referring to the importance of the image in postmodern societies to evoke genuine human reactions. The ‘performance’ is analysed from the audience’s perspective, critically questioning issues of participation and representation. Finally, the paper considers the wider social, political and cultural implications of such a performance.

The paper is concerned with how the strategy of engaging with invisible bodies and performative resistances can unpack hierarchies of representation. It focuses on a specific resistant act which can be read as a performance; dealing with the narratives that provide the act with its socio-political context, as well as the categories of audience witnessing of the act.

Keywords:Hunger Strike, Urban studies, Political performance
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:7632
Deposited On:23 Feb 2013 21:37

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