'A Passage to Gibraltar: Alterity and Representation in M. G. Sanchez's non-fiction' - a lecture delivered by Dr Esterino Adami at the University of Bologna
Postcolonial Passages into the 21st Century Conference at the University of Bologna
Location: Sala dello Stabat Mater, Biblioteca dell’Archiginnasio, Piazza Galvani 1
Date and Time: 15 January, 15:45
Speaker: Dr. Esterino Adami, University of Turin
Title of Paper: ‘A Passage to Gibraltar: Alterity and Representation in M.G. Sanchez's non-fiction.'
Abstract: Gibraltar constitutes a particular type of ‘in-between’ colonial territory that somehow connects Britain and Spain, but also Europe and Africa, but often its textual representations have been deliberately manipulated in order to remove or marginalise any manifestations of alterity. In reality, in geographical and cultural terms Gibraltar represents a kind of passage between different cultures, identities, and (hi)stories as the Gibraltarian author M. G. Sanchez has tried to illustrate in his non-fictional writing that aims at unearthing the hidden memories of a hybrid cultural context. Through a diachronic focus on the neglected outcasts of society and those subjects that in general have not received public visibility over the last two centuries (such as servants, smugglers and prostitutes), the writer reviews and revises the historical imagery usually attached to the Rock.
In my paper I examine the sense of this metaphorical passage as a site of identity and tension, starting from the example of Serruya’s Lane, a red-light street in the 19th century, now called New Passage and a mute witness to the sorrows of the past. My argument highlights the attempt of such liminal figures that, by crossing cultural frontiers, challenged the imperial ideology of power introduced during the Victorian period. I will look at Sanchez’s historiographical project to deconstruct the past to understand the present, and will consider the manifold narrative rendition of Gibraltarian identity. The investigation will be carried out with an interdisciplinary methodology that benefits from the contributions of postcolonial studies, narratology and stylistics.