DISSOLVING TERRITORIES | cultural geographies of a new eelam

»DISSOLVING TERRITORIES« deals with issues of exile, displacement and statelessness from a specifically Eelam-Tamil perspective. This series seeks to bring these realities and lived experiences into focus; lifeworlds that have consistently  been ignored, placed out of context and silenced both inside and outside of Germany. With this series we want to take a look at the everyday cultures of memory and resistance of Eelam-Tamils and attempt to discuss territorial and cultural geographic issues as well as deconstruct local myths around the issues of flight and resistance in Germany.

The series »Dissolving Territories« was jointly initiated and conceptualised by Iris Rajanayagam (xart splitta) and Sinthujan Varatharajah.

The series consists of three parts so far:


Part III

The third season of »Dissolving Territories« is dedicated to the aspect of solidarity between different oppressed and stateless peoples: we will bring together Eelam-Tamil and Kurdish perspectives and explicitly look for intersections in relation to experiences in (German) exile. Topics we will be addressing include:

For the third season, we are pleased to have Elif Küçük with us, who will be contributing to the series on both a conceptual as well as artistic level.

The event takes place in cooperation with the Bildungswerk Berlin of the Heinrich Böll Foundation and within the framework of the LADS-funded project #CommunitiesSolidarischDenken.

Realised with funds from the Stiftung Deutsche Klassenlotterie Berlin.


9+ Birth in Exile

Wednesday, August 4th 2021, 7pm

Guest Speaker: Melek Erdal

**This event will take place online in English spoken language**

stone structure in pastel tones
Foto Credit: Marcel Strauß

To birth in exile is to bring to new life in exile. In this last episode of Dissolving Territories’ third season, we will explore what it means for Eelam Tamils and for Kurds to give birth in exile – and what it means to be born in exile.

Who are the children born in displacement? How does birth in exile differ from birth in a homeland? What is the potential and role of people born in exile in the struggle against statelessness? And does exile create new kinds of people? In light of these questions, we get into conversation with Melek Erdal. The event will open with a short presentation by Sinthujan Varatharajah. This will be followed by a panel discussion with:

  • Sinthujan Varatharajah, Elif Küçük and Melek Erdal
  • Moderation: Iris Rajanayagam (xart splitta)

Registration via the Bildungswerk Berlin of the Heinrich Böll Foundation.


8+ Fabrics and Clothing

Wednesday, June 16th 2021, 7pm

Guest Speakers: Havin Al-Sindy & Karosh Taha

**This event will take place online**

Nahaufnahme roter Stoff

How do we dress in exile? What meanings, politics and histories can lie behind fabrics, textiles and clothing in exile? And what do fabrics, textiles and clothing have to do with resistance?

In the second event of the third season of the series “Dissolving Territories” we look at fabrics & clothing in the context of statelessness and exile. In this context, we will talk with Havin Al-Sindy and Karosh Taha. The event will open with a short presentation by Sinthujan Varatharajah. This will be followed by a panel discussion with:

Registration via the Bildungswerk Berlin of the Heinrich Böll Foundation.


7+ Digital Landscapes

Wednesday, May 12th 2021, 7pm

Guest Speaker: Duygu Örs

**This event will take place online**

What role does the internet play in the context of statelessness and exile? How is social media used by stateless and exiled people? What potential does the internet hold for people who live physically separated from each other? What is the relationship between digital spaces and physical realities? And where are the potential limits of digitalisation?

In the first event of the third season of the series »Dissolving Territories«, we look at digital territories and developments in the context of statelessness and exile. In this context, we will speak with Duygu Örs. The event will be introduced with an opening talk by Sinthujan Varatharajah. This will be followed by a panel discussion with:

  • Sinthujan Varataharajah and Duygu Örs
  • Moderation: Iris Rajanayagam (xart splitta)

For the third season, we are pleased to have Elif Küçük with us, who will be contributing to the series on both a conceptual as well as artistic level.

To receive an access link for the event, please register via the Bildungswerk Berlin of the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

Sinthujan Varatharajah is a political geographer, essayist and researcher based in Berlin. Varatharajah’s work focuses on geographies of power, displacement and statelessness. In 2020, Varatharajah was part of the 11th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art with the exhibition “how to* move an ark”. In spring 2022, Varatharajah’s first book will be published by Hanserblau.

Elif Küçük is a visual artist and art director from Berlin. She works with the means of photography and videography, digital illustration and animation. Her work focuses on visual explorations of tenderness, solidarity and resistance. Since October 2020, she has been working as an editorial designer at in the ze.tt department of ZEIT ONLINE.

The event will be held in German spoken language.


Part II

In the second part of Dissolving Territories, different questions in the context of the violent expulsion of state territories and the creation of new social landscapes, infrastructures and communication channels will be examined and discussed from a decidedly Tamil perspective. Dissolving Territories will focus on eelam-tamil voices and approaches, voices and life-worlds that have always remained unheard. With this series we want to look at memory cultures and the construction of narratives through the lens of a Tamil point of view and thus attempt to discuss territorial and cultural-geographical questions as well as deconstruct local myths around the themes of flight and resistance in Germany.

We will address the following topics: 


6+ Frequencies

June 20th 2019, 7pm, @ aquarium am Südblock

Guest Speaker: Maya Bastian (via Skype)

© Sinthujan Varatharajah

How do we hear (from) each other in displacement?  How are voices, songs and sound memories transported through distances? Does exile have a sound?

In our final session for this year, we will explore the soundscapes of exile by considering what sounds and noises can mean under such conditions: how they travel, alter and manifest under mass displacement. Centering the roles of communication media, from telephone lines to radio stations to Viber, we attempt to understand the multiple meanings of modern technology for a stateless people.

This session will also feature a collaboration with the visual artist Elif Kücük: https://castorxpollux.com/

Sinthujan Varatharajah initiated and conceptualised the series »Dissolving Territories« together with Iris Rajanayagam (director xart splitta). Varatharajah is an essayist, researcher and currently Open City Fellow of the Open Society Foundation and a PhD student in Political Geography (UCL). Sinthujan works and researches the geography of power(lessness) and spatial resistance practices and holds an MSc. in Race, Ethnicity and Postcolonial Studies (LSE).

Maya Bastian is a filmmaker, focusing on short films and documentaries that have screened at festivals around the world. Primarily focusing on social justice issues, her films range from narrative to documentary to experimental. She has spent several years traveling the world as an investigative video journalist, documenting areas of conflict and post-conflict culminating in her latest narrative short film ‘Air Show’, about the effect of the Toronto Air Show on newcomer refugees. She is the recipient of the 2017 Magee TV Diverse Screenwriting Mentorship Award was selected as one of Reelworld Film Festival’s Emerging 20, and has been recently chosen as one of Regent Park Film Festival’s Home Made Visible artists. www.mayabastian.com/

The event will be held in spoken English. The location including the bathroom is wheelchair accessible.


5+ Logistics

June 5th 2019, 7pm, @ aquarium am Südblock

Guest speaker: Thevagar Mohanadhasan

© Google Maps

The forcible displacement of people doesn’t just lead to the dislocation of bodies, but also to a shift of eating habits. Food cultures are reflective of specific geographies, topographies, climates, histories and cultures that evolve within/through them. But what happens when a people are forcefully pushed out of their ancient (cultural) landscapes only to find themselves confronted with, to them, new and unknown geographies as well as climates?

In the fifth episode of “Dissolving Territories – Cultural Geographies of a New Eelam”, we explore how people eat in exile, what meanings food are assigned to in exile, how geographic shifts can articulate themselves in changes within taste palates and what roles Tamil grocery stores play within such contexts. Central to our journey will be the history of transnational food chains and infrastructures which allowed for the present day bridging of climate and geographic boundaries to very much enable a Tamil cuisine in exile.

Sinthujan Varatharajah initiated and conceptualised the series »Dissolving Territories« together with Iris Rajanayagam (director xart splitta). Varatharajah is an essayist, researcher and currently Open City Fellow of the Open Society Foundation and a PhD student in Political Geography (UCL). Sinthujan works and researches the geography of power(lessness) and spatial resistance practices and holds an MSc. in Race, Ethnicity and Postcolonial Studies (LSE).

Thevagar Mohanadhasan is a student of philosophy, politics and economics at the Georg-August University in Göttingen. In addition to his studies, he is involved in numerous civil society initiatives. His work focuses on European policy, international relations and migration policy.

The event will take place in spoken German. The location is wheelchair accessible. A wheelchair accessible bathroom is available.


4+ Airport

Wednesday, Mai 22nd 2019, 7pm, @ aquarium am Südblock

Guest speaker: Nahed Awwad

© Google Maps

Airports are often described as so-called non-places. But what does this mean?

No airport can function without an armada of people working behind, in front of and under the scenes of regular airport operations. Airports are nowadays capitalist (private) entities that not only enable the mobility of millions of people, but also generate the livelihoods of millions. In many places, airports are important employers who engage tens of thousands of people. For them, the airport is neither a gateway nor a transit point: it is a fixed point in their day to day lives.

However, not everyone who counts airports as part of their everyday working lives is allowed to walk through the futuristic entrances through which travellers enter and experience this place. People who work in the low-wage sector at airports walk through countless back doors, through which they are supposed to silently disappear again. This also includes thousands of Tamil workers.

Today, they are employed as cleaning staff, baggage handlers or security officers at airports globally. Their skin colour or supposed origin has become part of heir daily uniform. Many of these workers are former asylum seekers who escaped the racist persecution and genocide of Tamil people in Sri Lanka with aeorplanes. In a narrative twist, they today often work exactly in the places in which they arrived as travellers without return tickets.

In our next event, we ask ourselves what it means when people who used to enter airports in order never to arrive have become the enablers and softeners of the mobility of privileged citizens? If airports are non-places, are they consequently non-people?

As part of the event, we will be showing excerpts from the film »5 Minutes from Home« by Nahed Awwad: www.nahedawwad.com/5-minutes-from-home/

Sinthujan Varatharajah initiated and conceptualised the series »Dissolving Territories« together with Iris Rajanayagam (director xart splitta). Varatharajah is an essayist, researcher and currently Open City Fellow of the Open Society Foundation and a PhD student in Political Geography (UCL). Sinthujan works and researches the geography of power(lessness) and spatial resistance practices and holds an MSc. in Race, Ethnicity and Postcolonial Studies (LSE).

Nahed Awwad is an independent filmmaker; She has worked with well- known Palestinian filmmakers, local Palestinian TV stations and later international networks. In 2004 she got her film diploma from the European film college in Denmark and has released eight documentary films between experimental, short and feature length. Awwad’s films were screened at various international film festivals, including HotDocs film festival, Canada 2013, Dubai international film festival in 2012, Vision du Reel Film Festival, Nyon, Switzerland in 2005 and 2008 and the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 (Cinema Sud). In 2009 she was granted the International Trailblazer Tribute -Middle East Trailblazer in MIPDOC.

The event will be held in spoken English. The location including the bathroom is wheelchair accessible.

»Dissolving Territories« part II is funded by the Regional Centre for Civic Education Berlin.


Part I

In this event series various questions within the context of life in the diaspora/in exile are highlighted and discussed from a decidedly Tamil perspective. We aim at consciously centering Tamil voices and approaches  while working on and analysing these questions; voices that have always been marginalised and silenced by various parties and/or are unheard or not listened to. We want to look at cultures of memory and the construction of narratives through the prism of an Eelam-Tamil point of view and thus endeavour to debate questions of identity and belonging as well as to deconstruct local myths around the topics migration, flight and resistance in Germany.

We will address the following topics:


3+ DEATH
April 26th, 8pm @ Mosaik-KulturEtage, Oranienstr. 34 (rear building), 10999 Berlin.

With Senthuran Varatharajah and Sinthujan Varatharajah.

What does it mean to die in exile? What happens to the bodies of stateless people after their demise? What impact do expulsions and border policies have on rituals of death for people living in exile? And what role does the question of forced migration and landlessness play in dying?

What role does death play for those who have escaped it? How does the diaspora relate to that, which was the reason for there bring a diaspora?

These are the questions we will address in the third and, for now last event of our series Dissolving Territories. We warmley welcome you to join us in the discussion.

The event will take place in German spoken language. Questions can be asked in English. The space is wheelchair accessible. There is a lift at U-Bahnhof Kottbusser Tor.

Senthuran Varatharajah  studied philosophy, theology and cultural studies in Marburg, Berlin and London. In 2016 he published his award-winning debut novel “Vor der Zunahme der Zeichen” (S. Fischer). Among others it was awarded with the 3Sat Prize at the “38th Days of German-Language Literature”, the Alfred Doblin Fellowship of the Berlin Academy of Arts, the Berlin Senate Fellowship, the Kranichsteiner Literaturförderpreis, the Bremer Literaturförderpreis, the Chamisso Award and the Rauriser Literaturpreis.


2+ AESTHETICS

Thursday, April 5th, 7pm @ aquarium am Südblock

Guest speaker: Bafta Sarbo

What role do aesthetics play in modern-day protests? Do social justice & human rights protests require in-depth design and communication strategies to succeed? And what roles do race and class play in such movements?
 

In our second installment of Dissolving Territories, we will engage with questions of aesthetics of resistance. Using examples of Eelam Tamil protests in exile, we will explore the history of these protests, their communication and design strategies and juxtapose them to aesthetic practices of other modern-day protest movements.

Bafta Sarbo was born in Germany to Oromo refugees living in exile. Having grown up in Frankfurt am Main, she is now living in Berlin and studying towards a Masters in Social Sciences. Additionally, Bafta is member of the executive board of the Initiative of Black People in Germany (ISD federation). She predominantly addresses marxist theories of society, (anti) racism and migration politics.

Languages: Spoken English. Translation into spoken German can be provided if necessary. Pls. contact us in advance if you need translation.

Information regarding accessibility: The venue incl. the toilet is wheelchair accessible. There is a lift at U-Bahnhof Kottbusser Tor. http://www.suedblock.org/wp/category/aquarium/


1+ ARCHIPELAGO
Thursday, March 22nd, 7pm @ aquarium am Südblock

Guest speaker: Prashanthy Sekaram

Audio recording of the event.

How can home be narrated, detached from borders/frontiers and be renegotiated or created in the everyday? Can one redesign and maintain a lost country in the intimate, in your personal living space? And how does one define the question of territorial belonging via the personal living space in exile?

These and other questions we want to attend to in the opening/kick-off event for our three-part series „Dissolving Territories | cultural geographies of a new eelam“. In this context we look at different living spaces of Tamil individuals and families in exile proceeding from the consideration which continuities and memories manifest in articles of daily use and whether they can contribute to a territorial detachment from the lost home .

In this context we also inquire into spatial cultures of remembrance/memory; which narratives appear, are narrated/represented? Which traumata do we carry across generations and how are they located in living space?

Sinthujan Varatharajah initiated and conceptualised the series »Dissolving Territories« together with Iris Rajanayagam (director xart splitta). Varatharajah is an essayist, researcher and currently Open City Fellow of the Open Society Foundation and a PhD student in Political Geography (UCL). Sinthujan works and researches the geography of power(lessness) and spatial resistance practices and holds an MSc. in Race, Ethnicity and Postcolonial Studies (LSE).