Ports and Portals: Emotions in Encounter and Exchange - Split - 7-8 June, 2017

This workshop and inaugural research meeting of ECCE takes the ancient port city of Split, and the Dalmatian coast, as a space for the exploration of emotions in these ‘junctural zones’. Participants will meet to consider ports as emotional ecosystems - as historical and cultural sites which function as portals of emotional encounter, exchange, even contagion. Dalmatia, as Gülru Necipoğlu has shown us, represents ‘a fluid “border zone”’ between the Ottoman, Venetian, and Austrian Hapsburg empires: ‘the Dalmatian coast of today’s Croatia and its hinterland occupied a vital position in the geopolitical imagination’ of the early modern world. This fluid and fraught cultural history of the Adriatic and South East Europe reaches back to the Classical period, and remains a feature of the region even today. Part of this character is formed by geography: Dalmatia is a series of key coastal and island ports which, together, function as a geopolitical portal for the meeting and mixing of various cultures and histories.

Ports have always been synaptical sites of contact. A constant flux of people moved through port cities: merchants, pilgrims, diplomats, rulers, refugees, renegades, pirates, slaves, travellers and soldiers. Accompanying this movement of people was the circulation of goods and ideas: cargo, artwork, plunder; and other lifeforms, from livestock to bacteria. Ports can also, of course, be more widely understood as gates between worlds, social and geographical zones. They include natural and man-made structures such as passes, ravines, canyons, border zones; trade posts and fortresses. Through their intensification and movement, ports function, Ryan and Van Loon suggest, as ‘junctural zones’, ‘dangerous spaces’ where not only goods and people meet, but change is made: ‘where different organisms intersect, often at cellular but sometimes at subcellular or even submolecular levels’ (Van Loon 2001). Thus ports can also become spaces of intense emotional experience and expression.

Flyer for this event can be downloaded here

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