Kevin Potter

Dissertationspreis für Migrationsforschung 2020

Kevin Potter wird für sein Dissertationsprojekt Kinopoetics: Migrant Literature in a Politics of Motion ausgezeichnet.


This project examines the genre of migrant literature through a new interpretive and methodological framework: what Kevin Potter calls “kinopoetics”. The term is derived from philosopher Thomas Nail’s concept of kinopolitics – a “movement-oriented politics” that describes the juridical, economic, and political formation of societies and nations as “regimes of social motion” (Nail, Thomas. The Figure of the Migrant. Stanford UP, 2015: p. 24). Rather than approaching the history of social development through a nation- and place-based paradigm – wherein migration is seen as secondary or as an exception to the centrality of nation-states and borders – kinopolitics operates as a counter-history of movement and migration. A consequence of this radical, movement-oriented perspective is that the migrant becomes the primary constitutive figure of social history. Kinopoetics extends the theoretical contours of kinopolitics into the study of migrant literature.

What makes migrant literature unique is its capacity to focalize the experience of the migrant who moves across borders - questioning the stability of boundaries and nations, while highlighting the forces of expulsion and exclusion. Using this genre, Kevin Potter claims that migrant literature dramatizes and makes visible the migrant’s movement, along with the complexities in their affective and emotional life as well as the extensive movement that they undergo in their movement beyond national borders. Kinopoetics, therefore, extends (kino-)politics into a poetics, assuring that migrant movement is made visible and thinkable, and that politics and poetics are mutually reinforced. As a method, kinopoetics approaches migrant literature through this kinopolitical counter-history, emphasizing and affirming the political primacy of the migrant as a socially-constitutive figure. As an object of study, it considers migrant literature’s linguistic, affective, and epistemological registers that create interacting systems of meaning that shape our cultural knowledge. Kevin Potter argues, therefore, that kinopoetics as an interpretive framework draws out linguistic pluralities, narrative re-structurings, and unique sensations reflected within migrant literature, thus making the migrant’s singular movement thinkable; and by adopting kinopolitics, he starts with the counter-history of movement, treating the migrant as the primary constitutive figure of social history. Ultimately, Kevin Potter´s research makes legible aspects of migrant life that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Der Preisträger

Kevin Potter hat das Masterstudium Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft an der Universität Utrecht (Niederlande) 2015 abgeschlossen. Seit 2018 ist er Dissertant im Fach Anglistik und Amerikanistik der Universität Wien (Betreuerin: Prof. Sarah Heinz).  Kevin Potter ist seit 2018 Lektor am Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik und seit 2017 Universitätsassistent an diesem Institut.