“Arts of the Border: Kino-Aesthetics and the Movement of Refugees”

The keynote lecture for the Race, Migration, and Memory Conference

(Keynote Lecture: Nov. 2, 2023, 5pm, Levis Faculty Center 210)

(Symposium: Nov. 3, 2023, 9AM- 5pm, Levis Faculty Center 210)


Refugees encounter borders in an immediate and embodied experience, yet this encounter is informed by and expressed through circulating representations, histories, and collective memories. Their confrontation with borders is at once experiential and aesthetic.

Aesthetics, in its broadest definition, includes what is seen and sensed; it is a practice of memory, survival and imagination that intertwines life and art. With the alliance of artistic representations, refugees create and art of memory, mobility and mobilization. My talk examines select literary and cinematic portrayals of border crossing at Europe’s outer edges through the notion of “kino-aesthetics.”


Debarati Sanyal is Professor of French and Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry at the University of California-Berkeley. She is affiliated with The Program in Critical Theory, The Center for Race and Gender and the Institute of European Studies.