Arrivals in Rome : entangling and disorientating the city in contemporary art and text
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This thesis explores heterogeneous forms of trans-national arrival in Rome as they are encapsulated by contemporary creative practices. The arrivals include those of ‘first’ and ‘second’ generation migrant writers (Methnani, Garane, Scego, Ali Farah, Lakhous) and those of non-Italian artists invited to carry out work in the city (Kentridge, Weems, FischerelSani). The final chapter explores how more local border-crossing positionalities from the city’s peripheries, as encapsulated by the street art movement Pinacci Nostri, intersect with these other arrivals. By foregrounding contemporary and historical trans- national trajectories to and from Rome, the creative practices discussed entangle the city with a far more expansive geography than traditional Western conceptualisations of space and time suggest. In their definition of eurocentrism, Shohat and Stam pinpoint Rome as an important reference point for such conceptualisations emerging from the ‘normal view of history’ which projects a ‘linear historical trajectory’ leading from Ancient Greece, via Rome, to the West (Unthinking Eurocentrism, pp. 1–2). Interpretations of Rome in contemporary creative practices demonstrate the difficulties in the contemporary age of thinking spatialities (and the histories from which they emerge) as contained within national borders, or even within ‘direct’ colonial relations. Exploring how each of the creative practices in some way reveals a concern for the legacy of the Ancient Roman Empire against the backdrop of the postcolonial present, this thesis shows how Rome may contribute as an important reference point for developing theories capable of describing the trans-national present. While analysing how creative practices offer readers/viewers ideas about Rome that go against eurocentric ways of thinking space and history, this thesis identifies the qualities of creative expression which facilitate this agency. Turning attention to questions of trans-national positionality and cultural agency also entails critically reflecting on the role of the Modern Languages researcher in exploring such a phenomenon. By drawing on writing methodologies that foreground the researcher in the first person, this thesis experiments with how this subjective positionality can itself serve as a vital theoretical tool to further enquiry.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2025-05-18
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 18th May 2025
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