People on the Move:
An Exploration of Global Displacement and the Refugee Crisis
Department of International Studies at Wilkinson College
Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
People on the Move: An Exploration of Global Displacement and the Refugee Crisis
The past decade has seen an upturn in global complex humanitarian emergencies. Armed conflict, authoritarian governance, human rights violations, natural disasters, and environmental deterioration spiral into complicated panoramas of widespread human suffering and displacement. Such immediate crises are laid on top more chronic and structurally-rooted issues of poverty and inequalities linked to racial/ethnic, gender, and religious identities. The response led by Global North governments, international organizations, and large NGOs has been one of increasingly multi-faceted, highly technical, top-down interventions in which humanitarian and development goals overlap with securitization agendas. Large-scale flows of migrants and refugees are reshaping both sending and receiving countries.
Widely absent from such interventions have been the experiences, and perspectives of those most directly impacted by conflicts and crises of warfare, displacement, and forced migration. This conference seeks to center such often marginalized voices to unearth the underlying motivations and under-acknowledged outcomes of global humanitarian and military interventions. This conference explores in ways in which “doing good” can also lead to doing harm.
It asks how do belief systems—inclusive neoliberalism, racialized and gendered representations of the Global South, rescue tropes—underlie such interventions? It interrogates concepts of national security, national interests, national identities, and citizenship and their roles in shaping these new forms of intervention. It seeks to locate such interventions in a wider global political economy and examines their embodied material consequences.
Themes of this conference include:
- root causes of human displacement and migrant and refugee flows
- the ideologies and policies that shape responses to human displacement
- ways in which migrant and refugee movements are re-shaping the nation-state
- how collective identities shape the displacement experience
- the political economy of human displacement
- the perspectives, goals, and voices of migrants and refugees
2-3:45PM Session 1: Voices of the Displaced
Join us to hear the first-hand experiences of refugees and migrants from Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. Participants will share their stories of displacement linked to war and economic hardship and reflect on how being “on the move” has shaped their personal identities and the future of their communities.
4-5:45PM Session 2: Refugees Transforming Europe
Panelists will explore the responses of European nations to the recent wave of refugees. How have refugees been received? What responsibilities do European nations have toward refugees? How are refugees transforming concepts of the nation and national identity?
6-7:15PM Buffet Dinner: Displacement in the West Bank
Eid Suleman, an activist and artist from the Palestinian Bedouin Village of Um al Khair, will be sharing his story and discussing the risk of demolition that Um al Khair faces.
7:30-9PM Film Screening and Discussion: Human Flow
65 million people around the world have been forced from their homes to escape famine, climate change and war in the greatest human displacement since World War II. Human Flow, an epic film journey led by the internationally renowned artist Ai Weiwei, gives a powerful visual expression to this massive human migration. The documentary elucidates both the staggering scale of the refugee crisis and its profoundly personal human impact.
Captured over the course of an eventful year in 23 countries, the film follows a chain of urgent human stories that stretches across the globe in countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, France, Greece, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, and Turkey. Human Flow is a witness to its subjects and their desperate search for safety, shelter and justice: from teeming refugee camps to perilous ocean crossings to barbed-wire borders; from dislocation and disillusionment to courage, endurance and adaptation; from the haunting lure of lives left behind to the unknown potential of the future. Human Flow comes at a crucial time when tolerance, compassion and trust are needed more than ever. This visceral work of cinema is a testament to the unassailable human spirit and poses one of the questions that will define this century: Will our global society emerge from fear, isolation, and self-interest and choose a path of openness, freedom, and respect for humanity?
Amazon Studios and Participant Media present, in association with AC Films, Human Flow, a film directed by Ai Weiwei. Human Flow is produced by Ai Weiwei, Chin-Chin Yap and Heino Deckert and executive produced by Andrew Cohen of AC Films with Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann of Participant Media.