The railing


According to Natalie Zervou, the image of the railing (a fence made of rails) presents a strong metaphor in the performance titled Bodies of Resilience, which revolves around immigrant experience in Greece. In the performance, people are “holding on to the railings” (177), which opens up various interpretations and their implications. Zervou thinks of the railings as metaphors of both a cell and a border.

As a cell, the railings confine individuals to one place, which in the case of the performance is the “outside of the archeological space” (178). I interpret this image as Greeks trying to maintain their historical and ethnic purity by preserving the ancient ruins that symbolize the “ideals of Hellenism” (178).  The reason why the anti-immigrant ideology has been gaining popularity is due to the threat posed by the intrusion of a non-Western into an environment that is well aware and proud of being the “cradle of European heritage” (179), which shaped a lot of the Western conceptions. This type of ideology can be very dangerous, as it creates a clear separation between us and them and “us” always comes first. Greece is a great example of a country with a lot of problematics to begin with, which include the great financial crisis, hence the “intrusion” of foreigners only adds to the already existing tensions. This situation presents itself as a great opportunity for ultranationalist movement and parties (such as Golden Dawn)  to occur, which use the refugee situation to invoke fear in people and persuade them that the newly arrived immigrants are the ones to blame. Hence “the railing” as a cell rejects change and idealizes the past achievements. The railing as a border symbolizes the “divider and the unifier at the same time” (178).  It unites the people that have the same capacity to go beyond the border easily and the rest who do not enjoy such privilege, however, it also divides these two groups. It represents a not-yet reached opportunity for the ones whose mobility is obstructed.

The reason why I chose the word railing is that I see it as a very powerful image and a symbol of recent migrations in Europe. I remember listening to the news about miles of border fence being erected in Slovenia and the way it was presented by the news anchor made it seem as though we have achieved something. Most Slovenians would be proud of such an achievement, as the idea of racial and religious purity is very much alive in my country. Similar to Greece, Slovenia started to ponder on nationalism and our role in Europe. Although not being Europe’s cradle, there is still a certain amount of pride involved in being a part of a nation that is so homogenous in terms of ethnicity and religion. There is very little understanding of other cultures and it is easy for a lot of Europeans to forget the human struggle involved in migration and seeing it mostly as a threat to their own lives as they know it. I am not sure what the exact solution is, but building a wired fence is a very primitive and dehumanizing solution.

Works Cited

Zervou, Natalie. "Bodies of Silence and Resistance: Writing Marginality." Congress on Research on Dance Conference Proceedings 2015. Accessed 9 Jan 2018.