Authors: Araceli Masterson-Algar*,
Topics: Migration, Immigration/Transnationalism, Cultural Geography
Keywords: Spain, migration, mobility, memory, urban cultural studies
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Plaza Ballroom F, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded
In his short story “El otro yo”, Jorge Luis Borges imagines his alter ego in Switzerland, where he lived as a child, from a bench that is “en dos tiempos y en dos sitios” [in two times and at two locations]. Borges’ memories materialize through idealized Swiss landscapes, where memory and forgetting converge. More recently, in his film Un Franco, 14 Pesetas (2004) Carlos Iglesias remembers his childhood in the Swiss eastern province of Toggenburg from 1960 to 1966 through a story of Spanish migration to Central Europe. In the film, Martín (Carlos Iglesias) and his close friend Marcos (Javier Gutiérrez) lose their jobs at the Pegaso factory in the outskirts of Madrid, and migrate to Switzerland to work as industrial mechanics in Uzwil. After falling prey to a real estate scam that meant the loss of one year of remittances, Pilar, Martín’s wife (Nieve de Medina), and their son Pablo (Iván Martín and Tim Frederic Quast) join Martín in Switzerland, where they live until their return to Madrid five years later. Their memories of the Swiss landscape, as luminous, green, and open as those of Borges’ story, contrast with a grim, grey and enclosed Madrid, both origin and end of the six-year journey. This essay explores the interrelation between memory, space, and human mobility in Un Franco, 14 Pesetas. Merging experiences of arrival and departure, presents and pasts, Iglesias´ film shows how immigration is rooted in space, and inseparable from economic, political and social processes that are historically specific.