Picture: Seth Holmes
Violence of Inspription #4 (Day 2)
Picture: Seth Holmes
Logo of the Hebbel am Ufer

Sophie Nield, Seth Holmes, Jorge León

Violence of Inscriptions #4

On the Integrity of the Body (Day 2)

Part of "Violence of Inscriptions. A project by Sandra Noeth and Arkadi Zaides and HAU Hebbel am Ufer"

The idea – and the claim – of the integrity of the body are at the core of the last edition of  “Violence of Inscriptions.” What does it actually mean for our bodies to stay safe and sound, without harm, under the experience of structural violence? And what can we set against these often indirect and creeping attacks on our own and other people’s bodies – aesthetically, symbolically, by words? The practice of our international guests from arts, human rights activism and theory is the starting point for the 3-days presentation and workshop programme: over-writing scars with tattoos; filming and dancing of gestures and movements that are about to withdraw or disappear; writing in order to make the silencing and political stigmatization of bodies speakable again; defining shame and neglect as meaningful places to artistically act from.

Lecture by Sophie Nield

Puncture wounds: metaphors of disease and penetration in the cultural imagination of the 19th century migrant.

The concept of the nation state as a 'body' is prevalent in discourses of migration. Borders are described as 'porous', as though they were a person's skin; refugees and migrants 'seep' and 'flood' through them, threatening the 'host' with disease, pollution and infection. This metaphor produces several effects. Fears of communicable disease give rise to performative (and explicitly racist) constructions of people themselves being a 'disease' threatening the integrity of the 'native' population, with all that that implies. And although it might seem a simple shift from the idea of the boundaried body to the boundaried state, through this manoeuvre, the nation is reflected as an unproblematic, 'natural' entity, bordered by a natural and self-evident limit.  Yet borders are not naturally grown, but violently inscribed upon global territory.

This lecture will contextualise discourses around current refugee and migrant crises with a reading of a particular historical example: Bram Stoker's notorious 1897 creation, Count Dracula.  Emerging at a moment in which nation states were in flux, and large migrant populations were crossing Europe, the image of Dracula embodied cultural anxieties about otherness, infection and pollution. Penetrating both the body of his victim, and the body of the state, the image of the vampire offers an opportunity to read the ongoing work of metaphor in the cultural imagination of the state, the body and the migrant.
Dr Sophie Nield teaches theatre and film in the Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance at Royal Holloway, University of London. She writes on questions of space, theatricality and representation in political life and the law, and on the performance of ‘borders’ of various kinds. Recent work has focused on the figure of the refugee, the theatricality of protest and the political viability of the riot, and has opened interdisciplinary connections between the fields of performance studies, politics and history.

Lecture by Seth Holmes

Strawberries, Immigration and Transnational Violence Continua

Based on five years of research in the field (including berry-picking and traveling with migrants back and forth from Oaxaca Mexico up the West Coast of the United States), this talk explores how contemporary forms of capitalism, anti-immigrant discrimination, and racialized hierarchies harm health and health care.  The talk examines structural and symbolic violence, medicalization, and the clinical gaze as they affect the experiences and perceptions of a vertical slice of indigenous Mexican migrant farmworkers, farm owners, doctors, and nurses. This work analyzes the ways in which socially structured injury comes to be perceived as normal and natural in society and in health care, especially through imputations of ethnic body difference.  The talk will conclude with provocations to imagine ways in which we might all work against structural and symbolic violence as they affect immigrants, laborers in our food system, and beyond.

Seth M. Holmes is Associate Professor in Medical Anthropology, Society and Environment at the University of California Berkeley and attending physician at Highland Hospital in Oakland.  He is Co-Director of the MD/PhD Track in Medical Anthropology coordinated between UCSF and UC Berkeley and Founding Co-Chair of the Berkeley Center for Social Medicine.  He conducts collaborative research to confront structural violence and symbolic violence, especially in the context of immigration, refugeeism, and contemporary forms of capitalism.   Beyond writing academic articles and a book, he is working on a collaborative documentary film with indigenous Mexican immigrant families in the United States.  In addition, he is part of a collective of health professionals and community members developing new frameworks for health and health care equity.  He has received multiple national and international scientific awards from the fields of anthropology, sociology, geography and Latin American studies, including the Margaret Mead Award. 

Afterwards dialogue between Seth Holmes and Sophie Nield

Lecture Performance/Artistic contribution by Jorge León

Current Performances
Fri 15.06.2018, ab 19:00 / HAU1
2h 30min
A project within the context of the Bündnis internationaler Produktionshäuser, funded by the Beauftragten der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien.