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I Will Have No Other Foreigner but Me: A laboratory of political imagination through the "Otherwise Method"

Venue: Birkbeck 43 Gordon Square

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This event will take place in person in the Keynes Library, in the heart of Bloomsbury. The room is on the first floor, the accessibility details can be found here. Please note: the event will start at 2.30pm, please arrive at 2.15pm for refreshments.

There are many reasons to update the current geopolitical paradigm based on the nation state. The national territory, as a barred and exclusive space of sovereignty, has always been a powerful detonator of discriminations and war. Now more than ever it is a claustrophobic dimension to face the most urgent challenges such as ecological collapse, the human craving for mobility or the strengthening of the metaverse's monopolies. Hence the proposal to develop an unorthodox legal-political concept: the State Without Territory, a polity in motion that claims self-government. 

Participants will be invited to a political imagination workshop through the “Otherwise Method” to conceive social models inspired by indigenous peoples or diasporic communities. This includes the playful games that the Giocherenda group have devised in their own workshops as a means of spurring inventive group storytelling.

Catering will be provided for attendees, if you have any dietary requirements or allergies please email to let us know before Friday 3rd February.

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This seminar is a collaboration between the BISR, the New School of the Anthropocene, and the Stories in Transit project. The Stories in Transit project organises storytelling workshops in the UK and Palermo that bring young migrant students together with artists, writers and musicians.

Stories in Transit aims both to give a voice to those who have experienced dislocation and loss of home and to create mutual understanding, by exchanging stories about the different traditions, languages and experiences of so many displaced people, many of them minors.

The project aspires to work with displaced individuals, whatever their status. Its work does not extend approval, tacitly or otherwise, to conditions that curtail the right to freedom of movement and work for refugees; no man or woman should be made to pay for their survival with their dignity. The project’s hope of improving those circumstances should not be taken as an acceptance (“normalisation”) of the restrictions imposed on arrivants from any country.

Through Stories in Transit we wish to address these questions:

1. Can culture, and specifically storytelling in any form provide shelter for people who have lost their homes? Can a tale become a home? A lieu de mémoire? Can a memory of literature and the process of making it over and over again build “a country of words” (Mahmoud Darwish)? Can narratives build a place of belonging for those without a nation?

2. In times of great physical deprivation, the argument needs to be made for the right of access to a life of the mind and creative potential. What cultural steps can be taken to affirm the right of refugees/migrants/arrivants to freedom of thought and imagination – intellectual mobility? Is expressing the imagination and passing on traditions and testimony part of human rights?

3. What role can imaginary narratives play in contemporary conditions? In what ways can the ancient human capacity to tell and pass on stories help in the present crisis? Can make-believe help make-truth?

4. What methods and processes can be communally developed to allow the unfolding and generation of stories? What are the best uses of contemporary media for supporting exchanges of stories across borders and easing communications between languages and cultures? ​

Further Reading

Contact name:

  • Clelia Bartoli -

    Clelia Bartoli is Associate Professor in Law at University of Palermo (UNIPA)