Refugee Narratives in Teaching and Practice

Agnes WoolleyMCRl

This session celebrates the publication of Refugee Imaginaries: Research across the Humanities by Edinburgh University Press. Comprising 35 original essays from humanities-led scholars, the book is a collective intervention in the politics of national and transnational community and aims to place the study of the refugee at the centre of contemporary critical inquiry. Refugee Imaginaries provides an account of how and why the refugee has emerged as one of the key figures of our era. It demonstrates how refugees have been written into being by international law, governmental and non-governmental bodies and the media, foregrounding the role of the arts and humanities in imagining, historicising, and sometimes obscuring the precarious experience of forced migration and statelessness.

Refugee Imaginaries illustrates a deepening engagement by humanities researchers in the field of refugee studies. This calls for an interrogation of our methodologies and our pedagogies when working with narratives of displacement and statelessness. Our aim with this session is to explore with conference participants some of the key ethical, representational and political questions surrounding the research and teaching of refugee narratives.

The editors, along with poet and Assistant Professor at Durham University Kayo Chongonyi, will begin by reflecting on their teaching and research experiences before posing questions for consideration:

  • How might we transform xenophobic fears and anxieties into scholarly, historical, and critical transnational solidarities?
  • How might we better imagine and historicise the refugee’s experience and how best narrate this experience alongside other forms of migration and displacement?
  • What ethical challenges does the teaching of refugee narratives raise?
  • What opportunities are there for a more open and participatory approach to working with students on these issues?
  • What are the risks as well as the possibilities associated with aestheticising refuge histories, trajectories and experiences?'
  • What are the implications of narrative credibility in asylum adjudication for the teaching and researching of these narratives?
  • How might we involve refugees, NGOs and policy makers in our teaching and research?
Sat 3:45 pm - 5:00 pm