Emergency languages : echoes of Columbus in discourses of precarity

Carter, P 2018, 'Emergency languages : echoes of Columbus in discourses of precarity' in Gualtieri, Claudia (ed.) Migration and the Contemporary Mediterranean, Peter Lang, Oxford, United Kingdom, pp. 285-304.


Document type: Book Chapter
Collection: Book Chapters

Title Emergency languages : echoes of Columbus in discourses of precarity
Author(s) Carter, P
Year 2018
Title of book Migration and the Contemporary Mediterranean
Publisher Peter Lang
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Editor(s) Gualtieri, Claudia
Start page 285
End page 304
Subjects Cultural Theory
Summary This chapter discusses the compositional techniques used in making Columbus Echo (1992), a multilingual sound composition designed for the Acquario di Genova that presented the 'discovery' of the New World as the echo of an 'ocean or sound', the babelic noise of global communication. The core of the work is an imaginative amplification of the 'emergency languages' improvised along the shorelines of empire: pidgins, jargons and lingua francas were interwoven to form a ghost crowd whose echoic mimicry was intended to haunt or double the living crowd visiting the aquarium. Contemporary nation-states associate border management with extreme semiotic reductionism, the unilateral control of discursive ambiguity or agency. Columbus Echo, and the sequel, The 7448, suggest, by contrast, that the kinds of communication improvised at crossing-places harbour a baroque expressiveness that is primary rather than merely reactive: a possible meeting place across differences is choreographed, predicated on a willingness to hear the other and through imitation to add interest to the exchange. While the poetics informing an aesthetic production exploit a freedom of invention unavailable to contemporary refugees seeking asylum, a recognition of the value of hybrid discourses improvised in precarious circumstances suggests that emergencies are also where new socio-political forms can emerge.
Copyright notice © Peter Lang AG 2018
ISBN 9781787073517
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