On Pilgrimage Again: Protest, Place and the Nation’s Others in "Refugee Tales"

Berger, Matthias (27 June 2019). On Pilgrimage Again: Protest, Place and the Nation’s Others in "Refugee Tales" (Unpublished). In: International Medievalisms Conference. Maynooth. 27-29 June 2019.

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Medievalism has lately resumed its function as a receptacle for both statements of national identity and the processes of exclusion by which such identity is upheld. Nationalism is notoriously suspicious of the international migrant. This paper explores the British Refugee Tales project (2015-), which consists mainly of two collections of collaborative short stories by refugees and established writers and a series of protest walks in solidarity with refugees and detainees. Telling international stories of forcible displacement and precarious arrival, Refugee Tales’ invocation of Chaucer’s pilgrimage arguably radically reimagines, but does not fully eliminate, the national medieval framework. Looking for inspiration to an author who has been canonised as articulating a benevolent vernacular Englishness, it searches for a new language that is welcoming beyond the confines of nationhood. Similarly, Refugee Tales attempts to reclaim physically memory sites of the nation such as Runnymede (of Magna Carta fame) and the “ancient pathways” trodden by Chaucer’s fictional pilgrims in favour of a positive reinterpretation – and decriminalisation – of “the pleasure and necessity of movement”. Paradoxically, then, the medievalism of Refugee Tales harnesses meanings of long national continuity and rootedness to make its case for an accommodation of migrants’ experiences of discontinuity and deracination.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures > Modern English Literature
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures > Old English

Graduate School:

Graduate School of the Humanities (GSH)

UniBE Contributor:

Berger, Matthias

Subjects:

800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 820 English & Old English literatures
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages

Language:

English

Submitter:

Matthias Berger

Date Deposited:

13 Dec 2019 08:43

Last Modified:

13 Dec 2019 08:43

Uncontrolled Keywords:

medievalism; national identity; Chaucer; Refugee Tales; Magna Carta; migration; indefinite detention

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/136328

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