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Precarious Intimacies: Narratives of Non-Arrival in a Changing Europe


The representation of intimacy in depictions of immigration exists alongside histories of deeply racist contacts and connections. Yet intimate connection may also produce moments of joy, sustaining solidarity and resistance to violent forms of exclusion. In this essay, we develop the notion of precarious intimacies through readings of three films depicting the journeys of refugees to Europe: In this World (Michael Winterbottom, 2002), Ein Augenblick Freiheit [A Moment of Freedom] (Arash T. Riahi, 2008), and Can’t be Silent (2013). The desire for Europe as a “happy object” (Ahmed 2010) propels these journeys, but the films narrate stories of non-arrival which reveal the unhappy consequences of encounters with European border regimes. We consider precarious intimacies both as aesthetic strategies as well as reading practices that call attention to the realities of racialized exclusion while still gesturing to possibilities of contact and compassion.

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