The Refugee Studies Centre from the Oxford Department of International Development is going to hold an international conference from 24 to 25 March 2014 that intents to explore the voices and aesthetic expressions of those dispossessed, displaced and marginalized by the pre-eminence of the nation state.
The Conference framework departs from the idea that most studies and humanitarian practices adopt the nation-state’s perspective in their approach to forced migrants. Accordingly, people must be tied to territory, and thus humanitarian practices are frequently about re-settlement either in the state of origin, the state of current emplacement or a third nation-state.
However, the current realities of displacement situations neither support current forced migration theory nor most humanitarian aid practices. An epistemological change in thinking about forced migrants, exiles and refugees is urgently required.
In this regard, the Conference aims to look beyond the nation state and international relations, in order to focus upon the voices and aspirations of refugees, stateless persons and the situations which other forced migrants are facing.
The Conference will discuss the historical and cultural sources and meanings of flight, exile and forced migration, as well as the significance of encampment, enclosures and forced settlement.
A series of persistent questions will be addressed at the event:
- “Under what circumstances do refugees, exiles and forced migrants leave a nation state that is collapsing?
- How do they cope with existence outside the nation state?
- How are resilience and resistance to the ‘bare life’ of the refugee and exile expressed across different refugee experiences?
- What mechanisms and mediums are used to express loss, perseverance and hope?
- How do they perceive their futures and manipulate existing systems outside the nation state to achieve their goals of dignity, justice and freedom (i.e. wellbeing)?”