Stories in Transit
Join Marina Warner and Omar Berrada in their discussion of story-telling and story-making as imaginative shelters in situations of exile and dispossession.
Marina Warner brings her lifelong research on the metamorphoses of myths and fairytales to bear on issues of current political concern. “Stories in transit” is the title of a workshop she recently convened in Sicily, bringing together writers, artists, architects, performers and refugees to examine how travelling texts can play a part in the contemporary crisis and be ‘strong enough to help’. Omar Berrada reflects on the role of translation in such contexts and on the work of Katia Kameli as opening up a ‘third space’, a space of unbelonging, which translation can inhabit.
Asylum seekers are usually asked to tell only one story: the factual record of their own displacement, a dry, codified testimony that circumscribes them within the circumstances of their tragedy. We propose to focus, instead, on the stories that have travelled along in their minds. With displacement being lived on such a large scale today, to what extent can a tale become a home?
Marina Warner is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, University of London and a Professorial Research Fellow at SOAS. Her writing focuses on mythology and fairy-tales, with an emphasis on the part women play in them. Her award-winning books include Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary (1976); Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism (1982); From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers (1994); and No Go the Bogeyman (1998). In 1994 she gave the BBC Reith Lectures on the theme of Six Myths of Our Time. Recent books include Phantasmagoria: Spirit Visions, Metaphors, and Media (2006), and Stranger Magic: Charmed States and The Arabian Nights (2011). She also writes fiction: The Lost Father (1988) was shortlisted for the Booker prize, and in 2000, The Leto Bundle (2000) was longlisted. She has curated exhibitions including The Inner Eye (1996), Metamorphing (2002-3), and Only Make-Believe: Ways of Playing (2005). She chaired the Man Booker International Prize for 2015, and from 2013-15 was a Two Year Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale (OUP, 2014) came out in paperback this autumn. A collection of short stories Fly Away Home was published by Salt in autumn 2015. She is currently working on the theme of sanctuary and culture in times of dislocation and diaspora, and is writing a memoir-cum-novel set in Cairo in the Fifties. She is a Fellow of the British Academy, and of the Royal Society of Literature. She was made DBE in 2015, and the same year was awarded the Holberg Prize in the Arts and Humanities.
Omar Berrada is a writer, translator and curator, and the director of Dar al-Ma’mûn, a library and artists residency in Marrakech. Previously, he hosted public programs at the Centre Pompidou and radio shows on French national radio, curated the Tangier International Book Salon, and co-directed Dubai’s Global Art Forum. He edited, with Erik Bullot, Expanded Translation – A Treason Treatise, a book of verbal and visual betrayals; and, with Yto Barrada, Album – Cinémathèque de Tanger, a multilingual volume about film in Tangier and Tangier on film. His translations include books by Jalal Toufic, Stanley Cavell and Joan Retallack. He recently co-curated the Temporary Center for Translation at The New Museum and lent his voice to Christian Dior’s ghost in Frédéric Tcheng’s Dior and I. In 2016 he edited The Africans, a book on migration and racial politics in Morocco, and curated several exhibitions including ‘Memory Games’ as part of the Marrakech biennale, ‘Black Hands’ at Kulte Gallery in Rabat, as well as a presentation of Ahmed Bouanani’s films and archive at Witte de With in Rotterdam.
© Katia Kameli, Mirage, 2004