The Politics and Poetics of Refugees

THE POLITICS AND POETICS OF REFUGEESAn Interdisciplinary Symposium at New York University
September 23 to 25, Thursday to Saturday
Keynote lecture by Thomas Keenan
Other participants include Eliot Borenstein, David Campbell, Ilana Feldman, Sara M. Green, Nina Ha, Zenia Kish, Jana Lipman, Louisa Schein, April Shemak, Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi, Celina Su, and Miriam Ticktin

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This symposium will explore the contributions that the humanities and cultural studies make to our understanding of refugee experience, by bring together scholars and practitioners who engage refugees as artists, activists, and combatants, rather than as “fearful people” without agency.
Department of Social and Cultural Analysis
20 Cooper Square, 4th & 5th Floors
Thursday, Sept. 23rd 6:00 – 8:30pm: opening remarks, documentary screening of Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, and discussion with filmmaker Zach Niles and Prof. Awam Amkpa, Associate Professor of Drama and Social and Cultural Analysis, Director of Africana Studies at NYU to be held at the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, 20 Cooper Square 4th Floor.
Friday, Sept. 24th 9:00am – 4:00pm: conference panels to be held at the Institute for Public Knowledge, 20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor.
Friday, Sept. 24th 4:30pm – 7:00pm: Keynote address by Thomas Keenan followed by discussion and reception to be held at the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, 20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor.
Saturday, Sept. 25th 9:30am – 1:00pm: conference panels to be held at the Institute for Public Knowledge, 20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor.
Eliot Borenstein
Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies at New York University, Borenstein is the author of Overkill: Sex, Violence, and Russian Popular Culture after 1991 and Men without Women: Masculinity and Revolution in Russian Fiction, 1917-1929. He is also editor and co-translator of Russian Postmodernism: Dialogue with Chaos by Mark Lipovetsky and has published numerous articles on contemporary Russian culture.
David Campbell
Professor of Cultural and Political Geography and a member of the Durham Centre for Advanced Photography Studies at Durham University. His many publications include the books National Deconstruction: Violence, Identity and Justice in Bosnia, Writing Security: United States Foreign Policy and the Politics of Identity, and Politics Without Principle: Sovereignty, Ethics and the Narratives of the Gulf War. He is currently working on a book about the global image economy and its production of pictorial representations of atrocity, famine, and war.
Ilana Feldman
Assistant Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at George Washington University. She has published articles in a number of journals including Cultural Anthropology, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Comparative Studies in Society and History, and History and Memory. Her book, Governing Gaza: Bureaucracy, Authority and the Work of Rule (1917-67), is in press with Duke University Press. She is editing a volume in progress entitled Government and Humanity.
Sara M. Green
Sara is Executive Director of A.R.T. (Art for Refugees in Transition), which she founded in 1999 in response to the humanitarian crisis in the Balkans. She has worked with refugee populations in Kosovo, Colombia and Thailand, where A.R.T. develops self-sustaining programs that draw on each community’s indigenous art forms and enable community elders to educate and incorporate younger generations in their cultural traditions. Sara earned her MBA from Columbia University, and also has a BFA in dance and danced professionally for ten years in the U.S. and Europe.
Nina Ha
Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Director of the World Literature Program at Creighton University. Her book in progress is titled American ‘Gook’ Examining Diasporic Vietnamese Masculinity and Sexuality.
Thomas Keenan
Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and the Director of the Human Rights Project at Bard College. His publications include the book Fables of Responsibility as well as articles in PMLA, The New York Times, Wired, Aperture, Bidoun, and Political Theory. He is the editor of The End(s) of the Museum and the co-editor of Thinking in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt on Ethics and Politics, New Media, Old Media, and other titles.
Zenia Kish
Ph.D. student in the American Studies Program at New York University. Her Master’s thesis in Media Studies examined representations of survivors and the politics of refugeeness in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She has published on post-Katrina hip-hop in American Quarterly. Her doctoral studies concentrate on human rights, the reproduction of third world underdevelopment, agricultural imperialism and right to food movements.
Jana Lipman
Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Tulane University. She is the author of Guantanamo: A Working-Class History between Empire and Revolution, as well as articles about the role of the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay in foreign relations. She is currently writing about the relation of U.S. military bases and their significance for refugees and human rights in the second half of the twentieth century.
Louisa Schein
Associate Professor of Anthropology and Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University. She is the author of Minority Rules: The Miao and the Feminine in China’s Cultural Politics and the book-in-progress, Rewind to Home: Hmong Media and Gendered Diaspora. She is also the co-editor of Translocal China: Linkages, Identities and the Reimagining of Space and the forthcoming Media, Erotics and Transnational Asia.
April Shemak
Assistant Professor of English as Sam Houston State University. She has published articles in Modern Fiction Studies, Textual Practice, and Postcolonial Text and is the author of the forthcoming book, Asylum Speakers: Caribbean Refugees and Testimonial Discourse.
Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi
Currently a doctoral student at New York University writing her dissertation on the protection and governance of refugees as expressed in the architecture of camps and the broader urban, geographical, and cultural impacts of emergency planning for refugees. She is the author of The Library Book: Design Collaborations in the Public Schools about an initiative to revolutionize the culture of education to combat poverty in low-income New York City neighborhoods. Her background includes nonprofit work, freelance journalism, and architectural practice.
Celina Su
Associate Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College, City University of New York. Her work looks at civil society and the cultural politics of education and health policy. She is the author of Streetwise for Book Smarts and co-authored Our Schools Suck (with Gaston Alonso, Noel Anderson, and Jeanne Theoharis). She is the co-founding Program Officer for the Burmese Refugee Project, a non-profit organization that develops participatory models for community development among Shan refugees living in Thailand.
Miriam Ticktin
Assistant Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at the New School for Social Research. Her research interests include anthropology of the human and humanitarianism; migration, camps and borders; sexual violence/violence against women; PTSD/trauma, and psychiatric humanitarianism. Her articles appear in American Ethnologist, SIGNS, Interventions, Ethnicities, and The Political and Legal Anthropology Review. Her forthcoming book, The Moral Emergency Complex: Humanitarianism, Sexual Violence and the Politics of Immigration in France, looks at how politics are enacted in the name of care and protection, under threat of emergency. She has also co-edited with Ilana Feldman the forthcoming volume, In the Name of Humanity: The Government of Threat and Care.
Organized by the NYU Department of Social and Cultural Analysis; co-sponsored by CSGS.