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October 18, 2019 | 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Category: Lecture
Location: Tierney Alumni House | Map
5510 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, MI 48202
Cost: Free

An Emeritus Academy colloquium presentation by Robert Burgoyne, English and Film Studies

Abstract: In this presentation, I consider the contrasting portrayals of refugees and mass migration in the films of Richard Mosse and Ai Weiwei as an attempt to move beyond the conventional visual rhetoric for representing the stateless population. The extraordinary black, white and grey images that comprise Mosse's multi-part work, Incoming -- recorded with a thermal camera that reads the heat emanating from the body -- creates a visual record that is at once the trace of intimate biological processes and an alarming abstraction, a disorienting representation of a human tragedy that is both consequential to and distant from our daily lives. In a very different vein, Ai Weiwei's film Human Flow sets forth the practice of hospitality as a symbolic antidote to the idea of the stateless person as threat. Emphasizing the right to be "at home" anywhere in the world, Ai's performance as interlocutor -- a performance of empathy and identification -- attempts to facilitate what Hannah Arendt calls the "public performance of voice," opening a space of belonging through the sharing of stories. However the representation of stateless persons through the lens of empathy and hospitality also conveys its own forms of disempowerment and complicity. Arendt's remarkable 1951 essay, "The Decline of the Nation-State and the End of the Rights of Man," provides a critical touchstone for this analysis.

Robert Burgoyne is a writer and lecturer whose work centers on the theory and representation of history in film. He is the author of five books and numerous essays and his work has been translated into eight languages. Robert was formerly Chair in Film Studies at The University of St. Andrews, and Professor of English and Film Studies at Wayne State University. He is currently working on a book length project on post 9/11 American war films, provisionally entitled The Body at Risk: War and Cinema in the 21st Century.

 Place: First floor conference room of the Tierney Alumni House, 5510 Woodward (just north of the Park Shelton parking structure on the NE corner of Woodward and Ferry St.). Visitor parking available behind the building. Please come to the rear door of the house and ring the bell for entrance.

Refreshments will be served following the presentation and discussion.

For more information about this event, please contact Arthur Marotti at 313-577-2490 or