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Stanford Colloquium on Dance Studies lecture with Dr. Nilgun Bayraktar, “Performing Non-belonging and Displacement: Representing Refugee Experiences in Contemporary Screen Art”

May 18, 2017 - 5:30pm to 7:00pm
Roble Gym 139, Stanford University
Dr. Nilgun Bayraktar

Free & Open to the public

Stanford Colloquium on Dance Studies presents:

“Performing Non-belonging and Displacement: Representing Refugee Experiences in Contemporary Screen Art”

A lecture by Dr. Nilgun Bayraktar, Assistant Professor of Film Theory and History, California College of the Arts

With discussant Dr. Usha Iyer, Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies, Stanford University

Thursday, May 18, 2017

5:30pm – 7:00pm

Roble Gym Room 139

Stanford University

Free & Open to the public

In the final presentation of this year’s Stanford Colloquium on Dance Studies, Dr. Nilgun Bayraktar will explore representations of refugee narratives, experiences, and bodies in two video-art works: British artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien’s Western Union: Small Boats (2007) and Turkish artist Halil Altindere’s Homeland (2015). Through close readings of these videos, Bayraktar will show how contemporary dance and music video aesthetics can shed a critical light on the plight of undocumented migrants and refugees—figures often portrayed in the media and mainstream political discourses as “invaders,” “criminals,” or “victims.”

Julien’s film Western Union, made in collaboration with British choreographer Russell Maliphant, focuses on the perilous journeys of migrants and refugees across the Mediterranean from the North African coast to Lampedusa and Sicily. Integrating the traditions of political documentary filmmaking and modern dance, Western Union examines the multilayered history of post/neo-colonial power relations within the context of contemporary forced im/mobilities. Altindere’s Homeland is a collaboration with Mohammed Abu Hajar, a Syrian rapper now based in Berlin. Abu Hajar’s vibrant rap performance in the video provides rhymes that describe refugee border crossings from Syria to Turkey, then on to Europe. Blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction, Altindere’s images depict the obstacles faced by refugees — barbed wire fences, drones, surveillance cameras, etc.

Presenter Biography:

Nilgun Bayraktar is an assistant professor of Film History, Theory & Criticism in the Visual Studies Program at California College of the Arts. Her work focuses on migrant and diasporic cinema in Europe, transnational cinema, experimental and avant-garde cinema, screen-based art, site-specific art, and performance. She received a B.A. in Cultural Studies from Sabanci University, Istanbul and a Ph.D. in Performance Studies with a designated emphasis in Film & Media Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Her book, Mobility and Migration in Film and Moving Image Art: Cinema Beyond Europe (Routledge 2016), examines cinematic and artistic representations of migration and mobility in Europe since the 1990s. Bayraktar’s most recent research project explores the intersections between artistic practice and global environmental and social issues such as climate change and mass displacement resulting from neoliberal capitalist practices around the world.

The Stanford Colloquium on Dance Studies 2016 - 2017 is curated around the theme of “Dance on the Move: Migration, Border Zones, and Citizenship.” For more information, visit:

Event Sponsor: 
Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Center for Latin American Studies, Humanities Center, Stanford Colloquium on Dance Studies, Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Center for South Asia, Institute for Diversity in the Arts (IDA), Stanford Global Studies Division
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