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‘Time Is Like a Soup’

Boat Time and the Temporal Experience of London’s Liveaboard Boaters

Ben Bowles

Itinerant boat-dwellers (‘boaters’) on the waterways of London speak about their lives as occurring in a time zone that is separate from the sedentary world around them. ‘Boat time’, as boaters call it, is simultaneously slow and unpredictable. The slow aspect of boat time is said to provide a much-needed contrast to the fast and highly choreographed movements of the city surrounding the towpaths. It becomes part of the boaters’ rhetoric of difference from, and resistance to, the state and other sedentary elements surrounding them. This article suggests that temporal experiences are a constitutive part of identity, a strategic component of resistance to the sedentary order, and a thread that links the disparate aspects of boaters’ own lives aboard.

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The Persistent Issue of Refugees

Organized Hypocrisy, Solidarity, and Mounting Protest

Tiziana Caponio and Teresa Cappiali

In 2016, migration issues in Italy became synonymous with the “refugee crisis.” Dramatic images of boat people, rescues, and the deaths of thousands of people in the Mediterranean Sea have catalyzed public attention. Examining the Italian government’s responses, we argue that the “refugee crisis” is the result of an “organized hypocrisy” aimed at containing, rather than managing, the crisis and at gaining access to international protection. Structuring the immigrant reception system on the opposition between humanitarian and economic migrants, Italian policies struggle to offer adequate responses to current mixed flows. Furthermore, this system often has a negative impact on local communities, where we find diversified responses that range from solidarity to opposition and, more recently, the emergence of a “reception market.” Additionally, our analysis suggests that the dysfunctional nature of the Italian reception system, combined with alarmist attitudes promulgated by the media, amplifies discomfort and contributes to an increase in public hostility toward immigrants.

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Ruti Stela and Maayan Amir

Exterritory Project is an ongoing art project dedicated to encouraging practical and theoretical exploration of ideas concerning extraterritoriality in an interdisciplinary context. Th is project was conceived when we decided to screen a video compilation of works by Middle Eastern artists onto the sails of boats sailing in the extraterritorial waters of the Mediterranean, as a response to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We wished to create an image of art exhibited in a neutral space, unsaturated by any one national precondition. The extraterritorial waters seemed to us a space that could temporally offer the suspension of border regimes. In 2011 the project was recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and was awarded the title of “Young Artist for Intercultural Dialogue between Arab and Western Worlds”.

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Shifting Paradigms

British Travellers in Serbia during the First World War

Andrew Hammond

In the autumn of 1851, Edward Lear set off from a temporary residence in Istanbul for a painting tour of Ottoman-held Albania and Macedonia, armed with a sheaf of travel permits and letters of introduction to Ottoman governors. The precautionary letters were essential, for despite his dedicated pursuit of the picturesque Lear understood Albania to be not just ‘a puzzle of the highest order’ but a place of ‘savage oddity’ renowned ‘for the ferocity of the aborigines’ (Lear 1988: 11, 51, 31). His worst fears seem realised as soon as his boat lands at Thessaloniki. ‘Instantly the wildest confusion seized all’, he writes, as a crowd of porters fight over his luggage with ‘the most furious hair-pulling, turbanclenching, and robe-tearing’, only desisting when government troops give them a ‘severe beating [with] sticks and whips’ (1988: 20). The images of chaos and violence mount as Lear travels from the coast into Albanian regions, where the imputedly wretched towns, infested lodgings, thievery and hostility test the patience of this most good-natured of Englishmen. Indeed, at one point, when his attempts to sketch the indigenes result in his being pelted with ‘unceasing showers of stones, sticks, and mud’, he goes so far as to consider them his ‘enemies’ (1988: 47). The landscape may have delighted the artist, and driven him onward in his journey, but he is filled with dread at the thought of actually inhabiting this ‘strange and fearful’ region (1988: 145).

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“Okay, I am going to try this now”

An Interview with Caryl Phillips about The Atlantic Sounds and The European Tribe

Nicklas Hållén and Caryl Phillips

Born on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, Caryl Phillips grew up in the United Kingdom. For many years he has been living in the United States and currently teaches at Yale University. In addition to being an award-winning novelist, he is the author of two travelogues. In The European Tribe (1987), Phillips travels from Morocco, through Continental Europe, to Soviet Moscow. More than a report from a certain place and time, his travelogue is an indictment of the provincialism of Eurocentric discourses of whiteness in European societies. It describes a journey where Shakespeare, Anne Frank, and James Baldwin offer guidance through a landscape of racial tribalism and exclusion. The Atlantic Sound (2000) is a travel narrative that comprises a series of journeys across the Atlantic sphere, connecting places and stories that are central in the history of the transatlantic slave trade. It begins with Phillips repeating his family’s journey from the Caribbean to the United Kingdom aboard a banana boat. After an interlude of historical fiction that recreates the experiences of John Ocansey, a late nineteenth-century West African traveler in Liverpool, Phillips visits this monumental hub in the transatlantic slave trade and then goes to Ghana to participate in Panafest, a Pan-African festival held at a former slave fort. The next part of the book sees Phillips at another apex of the Atlantic triangle—Charleston, South Carolina. The book ends in the Negev desert where he visits a community of African-American settlers claiming Israeli ancestry.

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Ex Aqua

The Mediterranean Basin, Africans on the Move, and the Politics of Policing

P. Khalil Saucier and Tryon P. Woods

Within the annals of black studies, analyses of state power begin with a well-trod premise that policing is not a response to criminal behaviour; nor is it an extension of a criminal justice apparatus whose operations can be accounted for by political economy alone. Rather, the police power is foremost a cultural phenomenon irreducible to materialist conceptions of social control in a capitalist world system. More to the point, policing is a methodology for social organisation premised on antiblack sexual violence. We consider several recent events of state power in the Mediterranean basin – as in the Lampedusa boat victims – in order to ascertain the erotic authority governing the police power of state and civil society. By using the Lampedusa case and others, we highlight that police power in the Mediterranean is more than the interpersonal and the event, but instead manifests as a methodology of violence by the state and its regimes, as history, as legacy. The policing and murder of hundreds of Africans in the Mediterranean we contend are not single and episodic events or moments in time, but are situated in the accumulated violence against black people globally. Without an analysis of antiblackness in relation to policing as methodology, events such as Lampedusa can be seen and understood as moments of exception (i.e. bad FRONTEX policy) rather than a practice that fully follows racial slavery. Without understanding policing from this standpoint, the political reaction to Lampedusa and other events has the danger of promoting 'reform' and 'revision' rather than a more radical vision: a future where black lives matter.