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CGWS/Sociology Seminar - Spaces of Exclusion: Methodological Questions on Researching Art and Asylum
Date: 27 October 2009 Time: 4:15 - 6:00 pm
Venue: Bowland North Seminar Room 18
A CGWS Seminar as part of the Sociology Departmental Seminar Series 2009-10.
Kirsten McAllister, Assistant Professor Communication, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada will speak on "Spaces of Exclusion: Methodological Questions on Researching Art and Asylum".
If you would like to join Kirsten for a meal (self-pay) in a Lancaster restaurant after the seminar please let Jane Collins, CGWS Co-ordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org know by Tuesday 20th October.
According to Zygmunt Bauman, "[refugees]…asylum seekers, migrants, the sans papiers" are "the waste of globalization", "redundant populations" (Bauman 2004) whose labour can no longer be usefully deployed in the transnational cycles of production and consumption. While Bauman's analysis of the violent dehumanizing processes of globalization is an important contribution to transnational studies, his dystopic conclusions are far too sweeping. This presentation draws on a SSHRC-funded research project on the complex processes by which public discourses constitute refugees in industrialized countries where they seek asylum. While the project considers legal discourses, it is primarily concerned with critical media and arts discourses that reconfigure spaces of exclusion with the potential to produce new transnational publics. The larger project compares public discourses in Glasgow, Scotland and Vancouver, Canada. In Scotland the New Parliament has worked with the voluntary sector on strategies to include asylum seekers in a new vision of Scottish society. Here, the Scottish Parliament has taken a strong stand against increasingly reactionary policies implemented by the Home Office which ignore the most basic rights of those seeking asylum. In Canada, in contrast to Scotland and more broadly, the United Kingdom, "refugee claimants" are relatively invisible, whether in the media, policy debates or in the everyday life of our cities and rural communities. This does not mean that Canada welcomes them. As non-profit organizations like the Canadian Council for Refugees and scholars like Anna Pratt (2005) and Peter Nyers (2006) have argued, with new global security regimes and the regressive policies of the federal government, rather than offering protection, Canada has begun to treat those seeking refuge as threats to national security.
Drawing on examples from ongoing research, the presentation will focus on the methodological elements of the project, including the reasons and challenges of examining art and aesthetic forms in a field of studies (Refugee Studies) primarily concerned with policy. It will also raise problems with older paradigms of research that idealize praxis and identity formation (from a Canadian context). Examples will include initiatives from the arts sector that bring asylum seekers and local residents together to build new publics that re-"image" and re-perform the after effects of persecution, flight and exclusion in cities in the economic north that challenge gendered tropes of national publics.
Who can attend: Anyone
Keywords: Art, Exclusion and disadvantage, Methodology
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