With roots in the Latin procedere, meaning to go forward, advance, or proceed, procession bears comparison with its derived terms process and procedure vis-à-vis the technologies of status determination that adjudicate refugee status. But the humanitarian crisis of en masse arrival, which cascaded a series of unilateral responses by European Union member states in 2015 and 2016, altered the procedural functioning of political borders. Within this context a persistent mode of envisioning refugees as processional collectives came to connote something additional to the normative, legislated administration of transiting bodies. The intensively imaged and spectated movements of refugees and migrants into and across Europe form the basis of a mode of looking and responding, which the author terms processional aesthetics. A key aim of this essay’s discussion is to make sense of processional aesthetics—both as a way of seeing and as an embodied practice responsive to refugees—via an analysis of narrative and photographic representation, chiefly within news media, and of collective embodied responses, including community marches, walks, parades, religious ceremonies, and performance art. Understanding these representational domains as interlocked (that is, linked as aestheticized traces of Europe’s “migrant crisis,” if not necessarily co-constitutive of each other) gives rise to key questions: What is the disposition of processional bodies?; and perhaps more importantly, What is the disposition of seeing that manifests the visual economy of the crisis?


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pp. 477-496
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