Landscapes of Displacement: Environment, Memory, Oblivion


States of Suspension
Geoffrey Aung (Columbia University) & Ei Mon Kyaw

This video essay explores the aesthetics and experience of suspension around a special economic zone (SEZ) project on hold in southern Burma. Combining ethnographic research with video from across this vast, unfinished industrial estate, this essay overlays narration upon images of infrastructures – roads, bridges, water towers – that have fallen into decay with the project on hold. How do villagers of the SEZ area endure or persist in the face of radical uncertainty, vis-à-vis the project itself, and broader political and economic shifts? Amid these ruins of visions past, we probe what it means to live in a state of suspension.

Return to Sender: This Building Does Not Exist
Caterina Sartori (Goldsmiths College, University of London)

This film essay is about displacement from home as experienced by homeowners living on a housing project undergoing regeneration-through-demolition in inner London. The discontinuous temporalities of demolition and displacement, and their relation to dwelling within and through them, are explored through the use of voiceover, image and sound. Taking as a starting point the unspectacular work of demolition, the images slowly work their way backwards through time and reveal the diffuse ways in which demolition, displacement and resistance operate and are entangled. How can a building disappear and yet still stand?

Absence, Memory, Oblivion & Displacements
Johanne Verbockhaven (University of Louvain)

This presentation is based on notions of Lines (Ingold 2007), Memories and Oblivion, Places, Traces, Exile, National Identity, Traumas and Silence. It concerns the gradual migration of farmers originally located in the remote northern fjords area in Iceland, due to implementation of UK & US military bases. Taking up the concept of “Image-Memory” (Ricoeur 2013) we will discuss reconstructions from some elders’ memories that allow a symbolic re-inscription of the abandoned place. We “attempt to answer, by the strength of the symbolic image, this question residing in the heart of every migrant: how to continue being present where we are absent?“ (Amar 2008).

Nostalgia as Urban Archive: Resisting Displacement in an Era of Speculative Capital
Hemangini Gupta (Speculative Urbanism Project)

As factories close down in Bangalore, India, elite gated communities and massive infrastructural projects transform the old neighborhoods where low income workers once lived. This video examines nostalgic narratives as urban archives through which sensorial histories generate alternate regimes of value and critique a shrinking commons. Nostalgia exists as set of affects, orientations, and memories that are shaped by material and speculative movements of land, livelihoods, and finance capital. It is an orientation to the urban present and future, a contemporary claim to one’s home in the city in the face of shifting urban power relations.

Blurring Lines and Opposing Mines: Environmental Aesthetics and the Politics of Displacement on Utah Public Lands
Danica Loucks (UC Irvine)

This presentation discusses the role of multi-sensory aesthetic qualities associated with wilderness in shaping desires for specific kinds of land management and use policy on public lands in the American West. In exploring public lands conflict through the lens of displacement, the author argues that along with arguments of physical displacement used in these conflicts there are more subtle displacements and implications that occur through calls for wilderness preservation.