Images of African and Latin American Migration and Border-crossing in Cinema

Monday, November 14, 2016
6-8 PM
Sulzberger Parlor (Barnard Hall)

A Pannel  organized by The Institute of Latin American Studies (Columbia University) & the Spanish and Latin American Cultures Department (Barnard College) 

November 14, 6PM-8PM
Sulzberger Parlor (Barnard Hall)
Barnard College, New York

Opening Remarks and discussion:  José Moya (Director of ILAS)
Moderator: Maja Horn (Dpt. Spanish & Latin American Cultures)

Isolina BALLESTEROS (Baruch College/Graduate Center, CUNY)
"Border-Crossing Road Movies: Inverted Odysseys and Roads to Dystopia in Hispanic Immigration Cinema"  
Benita SAMPEDRO VIZCAYA (Hofstra University)
“Transiting Western Sahara”
Domingo  SÁNCHEZ-MESA  (Barnard College / University of Granada)   
“Twisted Mirrors in Search of El Dorado: Images of Immigration in Spanish Documentary Films” 

The panel will be preceded and followed by a reception  (5.30pm) 


Benita Sampedro Vizcaya
Transiting Western Sahara
The relationship between Western Sahara, Morocco, and Spain is constantly renegotiated at daily points of transit, border management and movements, and by the conflicting geopolitics of human circulation and human containment. Through the lenses of two video-essay exercises by Ursula Biemann –Europlex (2003), and Sahara Chronicles (2007)—, we will simultaneously follow the steps of the domésticas, female domestic workers living in Ceuta and Melilla while doing their daily territorial transfer to work for Spanish households on the other side of the border, and the various concurrent West African migration routes towards Europe, stopping at pivotal sites of both passage and continuity in Sahara Chronicles. In these video migrant geographies we will revisit an ample spectrum of migration tropes, routes, and departures, at various critical points of transit, engaging deeply and committedly with the politics of mobility, technologies of space surveillance, and the theorization of borders, walls, gates, prisons, and passage.

Benita Sampedro Vizcaya is Associate Professor of Colonial Studies at Hofstra University, and she is engaged in research projects involving archives, borders, ruins, colonial biopolitics, and colonial transfers.


Domingo Sánchez-Mesa (Barnard College / Universidad de Granada)
Twisted Mirrors in Search of El Dorado: Film Representation of Immigration in Spanish Documentary Films
Documentary film is a cinema representational mode which provides specific tools and challenges to movie makers willing to register and tell the stories and experiences related with (im)migration in XXIth century. A selection of Spanish documentary films depicting the experience of (im)migration for Latin American and African subjects and identities will be analyzed from the perspective of a sociocritical methodology. Three main questions will be addressed during that analysis: 1 st “what do these documentaries mean?”, 2 nd how do this movies convey that meaning?” 3 rd “what do these films silence?” This selected corpus of documentary films (from Si nos dejan, Ana Torres 2002, Extranjeras, Helena Taberna, 2002 or El inmóvil viaje, Chus Gutiérrez, 2004, to Tarajal: desmontando la impunidad en la frontera sur, MetroMuster 2015) will be considered as a social and cultural laboratory, envisioned in the “twisted-mirror” metaphor, indicating the conflictive interweaving of native & foreign identities. Spanish society self-perception and its imaginary on “otherness”, together with the (non irreversible) failure to configure a true dialogical and integrating (trans)national model are staged in these films.

Domingo Sánchez-Mesa is Tinker Visiting Prof. at the Dpt. of Spanish and Latin American Cultures at Barnard College (Full prof. at the Literary Theory & Comparative Literature Dpt. of Granada University, SP). He is the director of the research projects, Narrativas transmediales (Nar-Trans, MEC 2014-2017) and Imágenes de la inmigración (Cicode UGR- La Caixa, 2010-2016).


Isolina Ballesteros
Border-Crossing Road Movies: Inverted Odysseys and Roads to Dystopia in Hispanic Immigration Cinema
A large number of immigration films focus on the endless journeys of countless migrants traveling from the global South to the North and all of the factors that enable and hinder them along the way. Blurring the boundaries between fiction and anthropological documentary and offering variations of the road movie genre, these films are structured around movement and displacement as logical reactions to poverty, war, destruction, and oppression, offer a pessimistic and dystopian vision of social mobility, and defend an ethical perspective that questions the rationale behind the politics of closed borders. They ultimately seek the audiences’ sympathy with immigrants and their understanding of the urge to develop a politics of borders that is respectful of fundamental human rights. As examples of this trend, I will focus on three recent films that document the journeys from Africa to Europe and from Latin America to the United States: 14 kilómetros (Gerardo Olivares, 2007), Sin nombre (Cary Fukunaga, 2009), and La jaula de oro (Diego Quemada Díez, 2013).

Isolina Ballesteros is full professor in the Dpt. of Modern Languages & Comparative Literature and the Film Studies Program of Baruch College (CUNY).

Nov. 14, 2016 - 1:00 PM