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Ethnographic explorations on the semiotics of borderlands - deconstructing hegemonic discourses through cultural transgressions at the margins 
Janine Schemmer (Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt)
Giustina Selvelli (Ca' Foscari University of Venice)
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Thursday 24 June, 10:00-11:45 (UTC+3)

Short Abstract:

Taking a close ethnographic look at borderlands, the panel takes a semiotic approach to dynamic margins and aims at exploring creative practices and counter-narratives challenging hegemonic discourses. It will reflect on markers of cultural diversity which challenge social and cultural orders.

Long Abstract

The panel will consider the representational dynamics shaping the public space of marginal border areas and towns, relating them to questions of migration, mobility, identity and diversity. Marginality is not only a feature of peripheral geopolitical location and weak economic position. Margins are sites where conflicting histories and experiences converge and where centralized discourses are challenged through creative forms of alternative and counter-narratives. In borderlands, legacies and memories of unresolved conflicts over territorial demarcations, ethnicities, language use and identities assume a significance that remains foreign to the context of the national centre. Margins open up new perspectives on the endurance of the respective hegemonic discourses, and question the cohesion of social and cultural categories through practices of mobility and expressions of transnational identities.

Landscapes of borderlands tell the stories of past and present conflicts as well as resistance. We are especially interested in examples of reappropriations of dominant discourses and in the different ways these are made explicit through cultural transgressions. We would like to explore the symbolic capital and the patterns of diversity inclusion and exclusion that manifest in the materiality of the border and in sites of exchange and encounters such as squares, ports, markets, and in written and visual expressions such as (un)intentional monuments, Graffiti and murals. We want to discuss markers of cultural diversity in their function as significant reminders of "Otherness" and "multiplicity", which contribute to deconstruct the exclusivist concepts of "fixedness" and homogeneity within societies at both sides of a border.

Accepted papers: