The APRA Foundation Berlin Multi-Disciplinary Fellow 2021

APRA Foundation Berlin Fellow 2021: Javier Toscano

Project Proposal: Prejudice – The Migrant Dilemma: Mirror or Mirage

This project focuses on the figure of the migrant as a key figure on contemporary politics in Western democracies. The aim of the research is to navigate around the communicational and symbolic layers that build up this imagined self to locate it as one of the most complex protagonists of our time. The outcome of the project will be a 3-chapter essay book, as well as a script to develop a participatory documentary film with migrants living in refugee camps in Greece.

The project seeks to contribute in sorting out a growing territory of political antagonisms and cultural prejudices through a critical assessment of the key concepts at play. The book will develop a discussion in contemporary political philosophy to set up the current understanding of the phenomenon. Following insights from the late Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben, Julia Kristeva, Judith Butler and Christoph Menke, it aims at understanding – through an analysis of the symbolic economy of the other – the most blatant underlying mechanisms of cultural anxiety. It will also study how right-wing channels of communication (digital newspapers and social media outlets) produce prejudiced and openly racist materials that are argumentatively flawed, nevertheless effective within a highly polarized digital political field. Finally, it will explore how the ability to open up to migration actually serves a wider democratic objective, since it prefigures an exchange with culturally diverse individuals in ways that challenge and enrich the constitution of political selves.

The project includes the development of a script for a participatory documentary film, seeking to work with migrants and refugees living in Greece towards the production of self-portraits in which a given livelihood can be presented as a form of political self-assertion, offering thus a first-hand, intimate and complex counter-narrative against simplistic representations.

Javier Toscano

is a documentary filmmaker and a philosopher. His work has involved a continuous search to generate and collaborate with minorities, communities and groups with disabilities towards the production of narratives of self-affirmation and vital exploration. He has been a post-doc researcher in media politics in Paris and Berlin. He was a founding member of Laboratorio 060 (, 2003-2013), an interdisciplinary team that worked around contemporary art topics. Together they won the first prize of the Best Art Practices Award (Bolzano, Italy, 2008) for their project Frontera, A sketch for the creation of a future society. He is also a founding member of Nerivela (, with whom he developed a project on the subjective reconstruction of communities as a form of social architecture that was presented at the Venice Biennale for Architecture 2016, Reporting from the Front. His latest documentary, Potentiae (2017), won different prizes in several film festivals, including the Golden Frog for Best Cinematography at Camerimage 2017 (Poland). He has also received the Prince Claus Fund for new media projects (Holland), the First Accésit Essay Prize from the University of Navarra (Spain), Semiotica’s Mouton d’Or Essay Award (Germany) and the National System for the Arts (Mexico), among others.
Combined Film and Philosophy Curriculum Vitae

Project Report: Prejudice – The Migrant Dilemma: Mirror or Mirage