Representation, belonging, futures

The relation between state, nation and membership is historically embedded and shaped by law and the imagination. These relations are also (re)produced in everyday practices and representations that treat certain kinds of people as belonging to certain places, from nation to neighbourhood. The ‘representation, belonging, futures’ research challenge analyses the embedded assumptions in depictions of mobility and membership and the ideas and futures generated by the perspectives of people on the move.

We examine how representation in press, culture and academic projects contributes to making figures such as ‘the migrant’, ‘the refugee’ and ‘the citizen’. We explore mobile populations in different historical periods and geographical spaces, focusing on changing ideas of belonging and the social and cultural notions of home, exile, identity and community formation. We aim to explore the politics and aesthetics of belonging by employing radical, participatory and self-representational methodologies alongside a critical engagement with filmic, literary and figurative strategies.

We are interested in questions like:

  • How is the ‘migrant’ represented in the media and in different cultural forms?
  • How do dominant representations and spatial imaginaries become established, and how can they be, or how are they being, unsettled?
  • How does academic research contribute to this settling and unsettling?
  • What possibilities lie in the individual, collective and utopian imaginaries of mobile groups and what insights might they offer into new or alternative ways of living and working together?
  • What implications might aesthetic, narrative and representational strategies have in policy making?
  • In what ways can the study of the mobile imagination help us rethink or problematise established categorisations of migrant, refugee and citizen?

Linked Research Projects:


Research Challenge Co-ordinator:

Dr Nariman Massoumi, Lecturer in Film and Television

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