Seminar:" Stowaway Time: Bare Life at Sea, the Shipwreck, and the Archive" by Dr Megan C. MacDonald

Seminar:" Stowaway Time: Bare Life at Sea, the Shipwreck, and the Archive" by Dr Megan C. MacDonald, Koç University, Istanbul


         In this talk I consider the case of a group of 21st century stowaways, bodies in a period of perpetual transit, on a passenger ferry on the Black Sea, traveling between Istanbul, Turkey, and Chornomorsk, Ukraine. Reading this story alongside Foucault connects this specific instance of bare life at sea to histories of incarceration, the intersection of sovereignty and bodily containment, French colonial penal colonials (“les bagnes”), and postcolonial states of emergency in the Mediterranean and beyond, as well as archives and their traces (wakes).

Foucault uses the term “quadrillé” to theorize the plague town under surveillance. The diseased kept from (but still with) the healthy. I argue that in the specific case of these stowaways, the distinction between the expulsion characterizing leprosy and the surveillance and control that come with the plague collapse inside four ship cabins on the boat crossing the Black Sea. Leprosy and the plague, or, bare life at sea. I am concerned with the following questions with regards to these particular stowaways, and what I am calling bare life at sea: Is this a narrative which leaves no trace? Can an archive survive a shipwreck? Is there an archive without one? And finally, what is the time of the stowaway?

Short bio:

      Megan C. MacDonald is 2018-2019 Eurias fellow at IMéRA, Université Aix-Marseille (Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Actions - COFUND Programme - FP7), and Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Koç University, Istanbul. Her current research interests include francophone Mediterranean literatures, feminist theory and representation, archive studies, migration. Her current work could be characterized as literary and cultural studies in and around the Mediterranean basin. She is co-editor with Patrick Crowley of the special issue of Contemporary French and Francophone Studies ‘The Contemporary Roman Maghrébin: Aesthetics, Politics, Production 2000-2015’. She has published articles in journals such as the International Journal of Francophone StudiesContemporary French and Francophone Studies, and Francosphères. She recently co-edited a special issue of Expressions Maghrébines on the assassinated Algerian writer Tahar Djaout, and the ‘Commentary and Criticism’ section of Feminist Media Studies on media representations on migration from a gendered perspective. Her forthcoming monograph considers the postcolonial navette via transnational and postcolonial francophone literatures in transit across Mediterranean spaces.  

Event Date: 
Wednesday, 23 January 2019 - 3:30pm
Seminar Hall, Department of HSS
IIT Bombay, Powai, Mumbai