[CANCELLED] The Visual Politics of Walls: Barriers, Flows, and the Sublime

**Please note that this event is cancelled. We apologize for any inconvenience and look forward to seeing you at the next event**

Abstract:
As Donald J. Trump’s electoral victory graphically shows, walls are a hot topic. While ‘globalization’, with its free flow of capital, goods, ideas and people characterized world politics after the end of the Cold War, the twenty-first century has witnessed a reassertion of physical, cultural, and legal barriers. To jam the critical discourse that frames the US-Mexico Barrier and Israel’s West Bank Barrier as moral problems, the essay compares twenty-first century walls with the Great Wall of China to explore 1) how walls are not simply material infrastructure, but are also structures of feeling, 2) how they are not simply barriers, but complex sites of flows, and 3) how walls are not simply texts waiting to be decoded: they are also sites of nonnarrative affective experience that can provoke the sublime. The goal is to use this non-Western example to understand the conceptual work and emotional work done by contemporary walls in the West. This comparative analysis thus will ask: What can walls tell us about the politics of borders, identity and foreign policy? The presentation will include a lecture, and a screening of Callahan’s latest film, ‘You can see CHINA from here’, which examines experiences of crossing the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border.

About the Speaker:
William A. Callahan is professor of international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His most recent book is China Dreams: 20 Visions of the Future (OUP, 2015). Callahan is also a documentary film-maker: ‘China Dreams’ was broadcast on KCET (Los Angeles) in 2015, and ‘toilet adventures’ (2015) was shortlisted for a major award by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council. (For these and other films, see www.vimeo.com/billcallahan.)

Event Poster