This seminar proposes to identify a material archive of the Mediterranean focused on the mutual imbrications between the human and the aqueous. We will consider seawater as substance rather than metaphor, delving underwater to explore the multiple forms of residuality implicating bodies and water in the Mediterranean and beyond—e.g., the residual remanence of planetary waters in human bodies, but also the progressive sedimentation of the submerged bodies of unlawful migrants left to die at sea and decomposing under the corrosive influence of seawater.
Through a foray into theory, Mediterranean literature, and forensic archeology, we will reflect on the multiple dissolutive ontologies underpinning contemporary incarnations of the Mediterranean while considering the sea’s resonance as a site where sedimented traumatic histories endure (colonialism, slavery, environmental disasters). Our first session will focus on water ontologies in relation to a universalized ocean space while our second seminar will illuminate the necropolitics of water (the biopolitical violence it enacts) in the context of the Mediterranean migration crisis.
Water Materialities: For a Residual Approach to the MediterraneanTue, Oct 12, 20216:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Wed, Oct 13, 20216:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Edwige Tamalet Talbayev is a US-based literary and theory scholar working at the intersection of Maghrebi literature, Mediterranean Studies, and Critical Ocean Studies. She is Associate Professor of French and Director of Middle East North African Studies at Tulane University. She is the author of The Transcontinental Maghreb: Francophone Literature across the Mediterranean (Fordham University Press, 2017) and the co-editor of The Mediterranean Maghreb: Literature and Plurilingualism (Expressions maghrébines 11.2, 2012) and Critically Mediterranean: Temporalities, Aesthetics, and Deployments of a Sea in Crisis (Palgrave “Mediterranean Perspectives” Series, 2018). She is currently at work on several projects that delve into the materiality of water as a site of alternative epistemologies and experiences of being. Among them, her book in progress, The Residual Migrant, draws on biotheory, border studies, and ecocriticism to theorize the dissolutive ontologies specific to drowned migrants whose submerged bodies are amalgamated into their ecologically ravaged, deep-sea environment. A second book-long project, a co-edited volume entitled “Water Logics,” queries the epistemological models that a focus on seawater as an analytical category can yield. Since 2015, she has served as Editor of Expressions maghrébines. She currently sits on the Advisory Committee to PMLA(2021-2024) and has served on the editorial boards of several other journals, including Yale French Studies (2009-2013). She is Secretary and incoming President of the Executive Committee of the CLCS Mediterranean Forum at the Modern Language Association (MLA). In 2016, she was named co-Vice President of the Center for Francophone Studies at the University of Leipzig, Germany. She has lectured widely at various educational and cultural institutions in the U.S., Europe, and North Africa. In 2021-2022, she will hold visiting appointments at Università Ca’ Foscari, Venice and Université Toulouse Jean-Jaurès
Neimanis, Astrida. Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology. United Kingdom, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017.
Alaimo, Stacy. “Oceanic Origins, Plastic Activism, and New Materialism at Sea.” In Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times, 111-42. Minneapolis; London: University of Minnesota Press, 2016.
Ingersoll, Karin Amimoto. Waves of Knowing: A Seascape Epistemology. United Kingdom: Duke University Press, 2016.
Necropolitics in the Mediterranean: Traumatic Historical Legacies
MacDonald, Megan. “Bare Life at Sea (The Leper and the Plague).” In Biotheory : Life and Death Under Capitalism. Edited by Di Leo, Jeffrey R., and Peter Hitchcock. New York, NY: Routledge, 2020.
Elalamy, Youssouf Amine. “Sea Drinkers.” In Two Novellas by YAE: A Moroccan in New York and Sea Drinkers. United States: Lexington Books, 2008.