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CFP: Special issue, No. 67, Autumn, 2019 – “Positionings. Critical Responses to the “Refugee Crisis” in Art and Literature”

Editors: Liesbeth Minnaard and Kea Wienand

The recent rise in migratory movements to the European Global North and the simultaneous increase in attempts to forestall this immigration has resulted in numerous images and narratives that try to capture and mediate the happenings at Europe’s borders. Many of these representations render the actors involved in these migratory movements suspect, and present those happenings as beyond our control. At the same time, however, representations of flight and illegalized migration have been accompanied by discussions about their appropriateness, their moral justifiability and the diverse ways in which they are being mobilized. Part of these discussions, that not only take place in the fields of art and literature, but also in popular culture and public media, is the search for more ‘critical’ approaches to the topic; a call for new grammars and alternative imaginaries that avoid the criminalizing discourse on terrorism and threat, and that escape the pitfalls of the “overarching trope of victimhood.” The question at stake in this issue of FKW is what counts as critical in our current situation? What does a critical position actually entail in a Europe that emphatically stages itself as ‘in crisis’ and as at loss with its identity?

Chantal Mouffe states that “critical art is art that foments dissensus, that makes visible what the dominant consensus tends to obscure and obliterate.”(2) But what does this mean in a time in which claims of crisis and states of exception determine the dominant consensus, and the ideas that ‘we need to stop this’ and that ‘there is no alternative’ are primarily explained in terms of drawing lines and closing borders. In a time in which a supposedly feminist agenda is invoked in order to legitimate acts of hostility and violence against ‘others’ or to install and justify mechanisms of exclusion? And in a time in which the use of adjectives such as fake and bogus result in a broadly felt sense of distrust? We, as editors of this special issue of FKW, believe that it is of the utmost importance to intervene in such debates about defending Europe and protecting an (ill-defined) European identity and to reflect, from a gender-critical, cultural-analytical point of view, on what it means (or should mean) to be critical about suchlike discourses and practices.

We therefore invite contributions that discuss thought-provoking perspectives and possible answers and alternatives in the fields of art, literature, theatre and performance, but also in the broader fields of popular culture and political activism; contributions that ponder on the question what it means to be critical in these various fields of cultural production, and critical in respect of what (and what not)? What are the – ideological, material, moral – effects of critical artistic positions? And can critical artistic interventions actually bring about a broader shift in people’s thoughts and attitudes towards these migratory processes, or is the current topicality of the refugee crisis in art and literature simply profitable, as was suggested in regard to the various works on the refugee crisis by Ai Weiwei?

The 67th issue of FKW aims to address suchlike questions and to explore both the possibilities and the limits of artistic forms of critique on Europe’s migration politics. We welcome contributions that address the above-mentioned questions as well as related issues, either on a more philosophical/theoretical level or by discussing specific case studies from the fields of art, literature, performance, activism and popular culture.

This issue of FKW will be bilingual: contributions can be written either in German or English. Please send an abstract (in English or German, 250 words maximum) and a short CV to the issue editors, Liesbeth Minnaard ( and Kea Wienand (, who can also be contacted in case of questions.
Relevant research areas: Western Europe, Book arts

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