16 May 2024 - 17 May 2024 All day Online & SG1, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DP

Description

Lead Convenor

Danai Avgeri (ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Geography)

C0-Convenors

  • Awa Farah (PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology) 
  • Dita N. Love (Junior Research Fellow in Education, Homerton College, and CDH Associate)
  • Beja Protner (PhD Candidate, Department of Social Anthropology)

Speakers

  • Tendayi E. Achiume (Alicia Miñana Professor of Law, UCLA)
  • Carolina Alonso Bejanaro (Scholar-Activist, cartoonist, DJ, Associate Professor of Law, University of Warwick)
  • Gracie Mae Bradley (Writer, campaigner, Glasgow)
  • Gargi Bhattacharyya (Professor of Anti/Post/Decolonial Theory and Praxis, University Arts London (UAL))
  • Diana Damian Martin (Co-Founder & researcher, Migrants in Culture)
  • Ida Danewid (Senior Lecturer in Gender and Global Political Economy, University of Sussex)
  • Adam Elliott-Cooper (Lecturer in Public and Social Policy, Queen Mary University of London)
  • Nadine El-Enany (Professor of Law, University of Kent)
  • Fatima El-Tayeb (Professor of Ethnicity, Race, and Migration, and of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Yale University)
  • Lina Fadel (Assistant Professor in Research Methods, Heriot-Watt University)
  • Joon-Lynn Goh (Co-Founding Director & organiser, Migrants in Culture Organisation)
  • Farah Jirdeh-Fonkenell (Director, Almas Art Foundation)
  • Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa (Choropoet, Researcher, University of Leeds)
  • Bhanu Kapil (Poet, Churchill College, University of Cambridge)
  • Momtaza Mehri (Poet-in-Residence, Homerton College, University of Cambridge)
  • Vasuki Nesiah (Professor of Practice, NYU, Gallatin School)
  • Lola Olufemi (Writer, researcher and organiser, London)
  • Harsha Walia (Writer, activist, educator, Vancouver)
  • Rafeef Ziadah (Senior Lecturer in Politics and Public Policy, King’s College London)

Summary

Representations of migration often capture the public eye as seemingly abrupt ‘crises’ at global frontiers. Yet, this presentist perspective risks obscuring that patterns of global human (im)mobility are intricately linked to the legacies of colonialism and global systems of racial oppression. The politics of emergency not only risk masking the historical and structural forces at play but also limit our collective imagination and ability to craft pathways towards more just futures. Against this backdrop, our conference is set to critically re-examine migration and borders through a dual temporal lens—one that acknowledges the intertwined histories of migration, colonialism, and racial capitalism, and another that centres the forward-looking aspirations of migrant and racial justice movements.

This gathering is a confluence of conversations that have traditionally been siloed—race-making, empire, and colonialism on the one hand, and contemporary migrations, border regimes, and refugee displacement on the other. More than reckoning with the persistence of colonial violence affecting transnational movement, we seek to counter predominant narratives of deficit and victimhood, highlighting instead the diasporic imagination, creative world-building, and abolitionist justice fuelling community struggles and dreams for freedom. Our goal is to foster vibrant inter- and anti-disciplinary dialogues that traverse theory, method, and artistic expression, drawing upon rich and diverse traditions—from Black studies, abolition geographies and critical legal thinking to diasporic poetry, anti-colonial ethnography, and autoethnographic filmmaking.

Featuring an array of engagement formats, including the inaugural conference opening Alfred Dubs Lecture, panels, talks, workshops, discussions, we seek to trouble entrenched knowledge hierarchies, inviting an exploration of diverse, creative, and utopian epistemologies to deepen our understanding of racial capitalism, coloniality, and migrant justice, guiding us towards new hopeful geographies of liberation.

To register for the Alfred Dubs Lecture: Race, corporate ‘sovereigns’ and corporate borders, please book your place on the event page.

Related events

This event is  organised in partnership with the Alfred Dubs Lecture: race, corporate “sovereigns” and corporate borders


If you have specific accessibility needs for this event please get in touch. We will do our best to accommodate any requests.


Supported by:

CRASSH logo grey

Almas Art logo

 

UKRI and Economic and Social Research Council logoUniversity of Cambridge, Centre for the Global Human MovementUniversity of Cambridge, Department of Sciology logo

Homerton College logo Postgraduate Education and Development logoInfrastructural Geographies Research Group logo Wolfson College Research Hub logo

Programme

15 May I 16.00 - 17:30

Inaugural Conference Opening 

Venue: St Johns College, Divinity School, Main Lecture Theatre
Alfred Dubs Lecture: Race, Corporate “Sovereigns” and Corporate Borders 

Speaker: Tendayi E Achiume (Alicia Miñana Professor of Law, UCLA)
Discussant: Vasuki Nesiah (Professor of Practice, New York University, Gallatin School)
Chair: Tugba Basaran (Director of the Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement, University of Cambridge).
16 May

Venue: Alison Richard Building

9:30 - 10:00

Registration 

10:00 - 10:15

Introductory Comments:

Danai Avgeri (University of Cambridge)

10:15 - 11:30

Keynote lecture and Q+A:

‘Transformative archives and queer spacetime’
Speaker: Fatima El-Tayeb (Professor of Ethnicity, Race, and Migration, and of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Yale University)

Moderator: Safet HadžiMuhamedović (University of Cambridge)

11:30 - 11:45

Break

11:45 - 13:00

Panel:
Creative inheritances and healing collective traumas

Speakers:

  • Bhanu Kapil (poet, Churchill College Fellow, University of Cambridge)
  • Momtaza Mehri (Poet in Residence, Homerton College, University of Cambridge)
  • Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa (choreopoet and researcher, University of Leeds)

Moderator: Dita N Love (University of Cambridge) & Lina Fadel (Heriot-Watt University)

13:00 - 14:00

Lunch

14:00 - 15:15

Workshop:
Collective theatre and Anti-colonial ethnography

Carolina Alonso-Bejarano (scholar-activist, cartoonist, DJ, Associate Professor of Law, University of Warwick)

15:15 - 15:30

Break

15:30 - 17:00

‘A new decolonial cinematic language’

Speakers: Farah Jirdeh-Fonkenell (Director, Almas Art Foundation) and more TBC

Moderator: Awa Farah, (University of Cambridge).

17 May

Venue: Alison Richard Building

10:00 - 11:15

Panel discussion:
(De)bordering Palestine

Speaker: Rafeef Ziadah (Senior Lecturer in Politics and Public Policy, King’s College London)

Moderator: Kareem Estefan (University of Cambridge)

11:15 - 11:30

Break

11:30 - 12:45

Panel:
Racial capitalism, empire and geographies of border (un)making

Speakers:

  • Gargi Bhattacharya (Professor of Anti/Post/Decolonial Theory and Praxis, University Arts London)
  • Ida Danewid (Senior Lecturer in Lecturer in Gender and Global Political Economy, University of Sussex)
  • Nadine El-Enany (Professor of Law, University of Kent)

Moderator: Ali Meghji (University of Cambridge)

12:45 - 13:45

Lunch

13:45 - 15:15

Migrants in culture workshop:
Writing ourselves into the future: abolition and creative organising

  • Joon-Lynn Goh (Co-Founding Director & Organiser, Migrants in Culture)
  • Diana Damian Martin (Co-Founder & Researcher, Migrants in Culture)
15:15 - 15:30

Break

15:30 - 17:00

Keynote discussion:

Abolition, borders and migrant justice

In conversation:

  • Harsha Walia (writer, activist, and educator, Vancouver)
  • Gracie Mae Bradley (writer, campaigner, Glasgow)
  • Adam Elliott-Cooper (Lecturer in Public and Social Policy, Queen Mary University of London)

Moderator and discussant: Lola Olufemi (writer, researcher, organiser, London)

Speaker biographies

Carolina Alonso Bejarano is a scholar-activist, cartoonist and DJ teaching Law at the University of Warwick. Her research interests lie at the intersection of race, gender, art and the law. Carolina has published texts and comics in journals, books and magazines in Colombia, the UK, and the US, and she has produced numerous multimedia events on activism and community organizing. Notably, along with her fellow New Jersey immigrants’ rights activists, in 2015 Carolina wrote, produced and performed the play Undocumented/Unafraid about the rights of undocumented immigrants in the US. Her debut book, Decolonizing Ethnography: Undocumented Immigrants and New Directions in Social Science (2019, Duke University Press), was written with her field collaborators, women community organizers in New Jersey, about the liberatory possibilities of ethnographic research.

Gargi Bhattacharyya is a Professor of Anti/Post/Decolonial Theory and Praxis at the University Arts London.Their  work focuses on questions of systemic inequality and injustice and processes of imagination and collaboration that seek to navigate, bypass and overturn such structures. They have authored a number of books, including: Tales of dark-skinned women (1998); Sexuality and Society (2002); Dangerous Brown Men (2008); Traffick (2005); Crisis, Austerity and Everyday Life (2015); Rethinking Racial Capitalism (2018); We, the heartbroken (2023); The Futures of Racial Capitalism (2023). They have also co-authored books with colleagues, including: Race and Power (2001); Go Home? Mapping Immigration Controversy (2017); How media and conflicts make migrants (2020); Empire’s Endgame (2021). They have appeared in a range of podcasts and previously convened an online series ‘Who’s afraid of anticapitalism?’ with the Left Book Club. Gargi is also the co-editor of the Pluto short book series, Fireworks. 

Gracie Mae Bradley is a thinker, writer and campaigner with interests in civil liberties, migration, surveillance, and state racism. She co-founded the Against Borders for Children campaign, led policy and strategy for many years at the pressure group Liberty, and most recently acted as Chief Coordinator of the groundbreaking Grenfell Testimony Week.  She is the host of the Stuart Hall Foundation’s Locating Legacies podcast, co-author of Against Borders, and author of From Grenfell to Windrush which appears in “After Grenfell: Violence, Resistance and Response” (Pluto Press, 2019). Her political writing has appeared in The Guardian, OpenDemocracy, The Independent, Vice, and many more publications. Her first short story, Peacetime, was published by Salvage Magazine #13 (2022), and her poem Unlawful Gathering appears in When This Is Over: Reflections on an Unequal Pandemic (Policy Press, 2023). Gracie is a keen swimmer and forager in her spare time.

Diana Damian Martin is a Romanian-born academic, educator and artist working with performance as a practice and critical lens. Her research focuses on borders, border abolition and migrant performance; interventionist and radical performance practice; and the relation between cultural, linguistic and aesthetic politics. She is interested in peripheral politics in relation to neo-colonial regimes of power between West and East Europe, and in the intersection of postsocialist, decolonial and anti-colonial practices in ‘peripheries’ of Europe, with specific focus on region of Eastern Europe and its diasporic dramaturgies. She also researches alternative practices of criticism, exploring feminist and queer modes of exchange and their relation to discursive and political structures and regimes of power. She studied performance making here at Central before moving on to complete a Masters in sociology of theatre and performance at Goldsmiths College and was a Royal Holloway and Bedford Excellent scholar at Royal Holloway, University of London where she completed her doctoral project. Criticism as Political Event (monograph forthcoming) examines experimental practices of criticism through the lens of radical feminist and democratic political theory. She edits Performance Philosophy Journal’s section for nonconforming writing, Margins, and sits on the editorial boards of Critical Stages and Journal for Body, Space and Technology. She co-convenes the Documenting Performance Working Group for the Theatre and Performance Research Association.

Ida Danewid is a Lecturer in Gender and Global Political Economy at the Department of International Relations at the University of Sussex. Her research interests are in anti-colonial political thought, the black radical tradition, gender studies, and histories of internationalism “from below.” At Sussex, she convenes the modules “Policing Racial Capitalism”, “Race, Gender, and Global Capitalism”, and “Introduction to International Political Economy.” Her work examines the historical and evolving relation between capitalism, state violence, and the production of raced, sexed, and geographical differences. She is the co-editor of “The Black Mediterranean” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021) and the special issue “Racialized Realities in World Politics” (Millennium: Journal of International Studies, vol. 45, no.3). Her first book, “Resisting Racial Capitalism: An Antipolitical Theory of Refusal” (Cambridge University Press, 2023), explores the role of state power in the making of racial capitalism.

Adam Elliott-Cooper is a lecturer in the school of politics and IR, Queen Mary University of London. He is author of Black Resistance to British Policing (MUP, 2021) and coauthor of Empire’s Endgame: Racism and the British State (Pluto Press, 2021). He sits on the board of The Monitoring Group.

Nadine El-Enany is a Professor of Law at the University of Kent. She teaches and researches in the fields of migration law, EU law, protest and racial state violence. Her current research projects focus on race and justice in death in custody cases, and the role of law in addressing health inequalities arising from environmental harm. She is the recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Prize. Her book (B)ordering Britain: Law, race and empire (2020) is published by Manchester University Press and was awarded the Socio-Legal Studies Association Socio-Legal Theory and History Prize in 2021. Her writing has appeared in various media outlets, including the Guardian, LRB Blog, Verso Blog, MAP Magazine, Truthout, New Humanist, Open Democracy and Critical Legal Thinking.

Fatima El-Tayeb is a Professor of Ethnicity, Race & Migration, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University in Connecticut, USA. Her research interests include comparative diaspora studies, queer of color critique, critical Muslim studies, decolonial theory, transnational feminisms, visual culture studies, race and technology, and critical European studies. Her publications deconstruct structural racism in “colorblind” Europe and center strategies of resistance among racialized communities, especially those that politicize culture through an intersectional, queer practice. She is the author of three books, Schwarze Deutsche. ‘Rasse’ und nationale Identität 1890 – 1933 (2001), European Others: Queering Ethnicity in Postnational Europe (2011) and Undeutsch. Die Konstruktion des Anderen in der postmigrantischen Gesellschaft (2016), and numerous articles on the interactions of race, gender, sexuality, religion and nation. Her current research projects explore the intersecting legacies of colonialism, fascism, and socialism in Europe and the potential of (queer) people of color alliances in decolonizing Europe. She is active in black feminist, migrant, and queer of color organizations in Europe and the US.

Lina Fadel grew up in Syria and moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2006. She has a PhD in Languages and Intercultural Studies, and is currently Assistant Professor in Research Methods at the School of Social Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, Scotland. Lina’s lived experience of migration and work with marginalised communities seeps into both her academic work and creative writing. She’s interested in representations and autoethnographies of migration, and migrants’ and refugees’ sense of home, identity and belonging. In her work, Lina advocates for the power of narrative and voice in healing and building strong and inclusive multicultural communities.

Joon-Lynn Goh is a cultural organiser, working at the intersections of art, infrastructure and social justice. Joon-Lynn has an award-winning track record of community organising, organisational development, strategic programming, and arts curation. They have organised across different contexts and communities. They were a founding organiser of Migrants in Culture, an advocacy network challenging the operation of the Hostile Environment in the culture sector (2018-2021); a founding member (2017-2021) of Asia Art Activism, a network of East & South East Asian diasporic artists, educators and organisers in the UK; and a National Movement Lead for What Next? (2019-2023), a movement convening freelancers and organisations to shape equitable working conditions in the culture sector. Most recently, she was a Civic Futures Fellow 2021-22 with the Greater London Authority, in which she explored creative collaborations between artists, organisers and council workers. The role of the radical imagination in collective city stewardship is a growing interest.

Bhanu Kapil was born in the United Kingdom and lives in the United States and the United Kingdom. She is the author of a number of full-length works of poetry/prose, including The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers (Kelsey Street Press, 2001), Incubation: a space for monsters (Leon Works, 2006), humanimal [a project for future children] (Kelsey Street Press, 2009), Schizophrene (Nightboat, 2011), Ban en Banlieue (Nightboat, 2015), and How to Wash a Heart (Liverpool University Press, 2020). Kapil received the Windham Campbell Prize for Poetry in 2020. She has taught at Naropa University and in Goddard College’s low-residency MFA program, and is a fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. Bhanu Kapil’s collection, How to Wash a Heart, winner of T. S. Eliot Prize 2020, catches the thinning smile of that ancient human ritual: hospitality. In a time of increasing hostility against migrants, Kapil demonstrates how survival tunes the guest to its host with devastating intimacy: ‘It’s exhausting to be a guest / In somebody else’s house / Forever.

Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa is a British born Barbadian raised choreopoet and researcher whose exhilarating style of poetics which braids dance and poetry on the page and stage, is a force to be reckoned with.  Her debut poetry collection Cane, Corn & Gully (Out-Spoken Press, 2022) explored the narratives of enslaved Barbadian women and their descendants through their dances. It is the first book to feature dance notation of the enslaved. The collection explored her Barbadian heritage through the dances of women, the book was written in partnership with the Barbados Museum & Historical Society and was the 2022 Poetry Book Society ‘Winter Choice’. It was shortlisted for the 2023 Rathbones Folio Prize and 2023 Felix Dennis Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Safiya is currently a PhD student in Cultural Studies, her research explores how Afro-diasporic improvisational dance techniques can be used to archive the living histories of Afro-diasporic communities. She is an Obsidian Foundation fellow & Apples & Snakes/ Jerwood Arts Poetry in Performance recipient. Her notable commissions include writing for English Heritage, BBC Bitesize and The Wailers. In 2021 Safiya started a free poetry poetry programme in Barbados; the initiative offers professional lessons teaching a variety of techniques, form & poetry around the world and across time.

Momtaza Mehri is an award-winning poet and essayist. She is a former Young People’s Poet Laureate for London and winner of the 2019 Manchester Writing Prize. Her writing has featured in the Guardian, POETRY, Granta, Wasafiri, Bidoun, The White Review and on BBC Radio 4. She works across criticism, translation, anti-disciplinary research practices, education and radio. Momtaza is based in London. Momtaza Mehri’s ‘A Violet Coagulation of Dispersals‘ can be found in The White Review and ‘Oiled Legs Have their Own Subtext‘ can be found in Poetry Society. Momtaza Mehri’s debut poetry collection Bad Diaspora Poems has won the 2023 Forward Prize for Poetry in the category “Best First Collection”.

Vasuki Nesiah is Professor of Practice in Human Rights and International Law at the Gallatin School, at New York University. Currently a Yip Fellow at Cambridge University, she is also core faculty in the Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP) at Harvard Law School and teaches annually in IGLP workshops. Prof. Nesiah has published extensively on the history and politics of international law, human rights, transnational feminisms, reparations and decolonization. Her current focus is on her book project on reparations, tentatively titled Reading the Ruins: Slavery, Colonialism and International Law. She recently completed International Conflict Feminism which is forthcoming later this year with University of Pennsylvania Press. She is also co-editing the Handbook on Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) which is under contract with Elgar.  She is a founding member of Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) and her previously co-edited work also speaks to this tradition, A Global History of Bandung and Critical Traditions in International Law (Cambridge 2017).

Lola Olufemi is a black feminist writer and researcher from London. She is co-author of ‘A FLY Girl’s Guide to University’ (Verve Poetry Press, 2019), author of ‘Feminism Interrupted: Disrupting Power’ (Pluto Press, 2020) and ‘Experiments in Imagining Otherwise’ (Hajar Press, 2021). She is a member of ‘bare minimum’, an interdisciplinary anti-work arts collective and the recipient of the 2020 Techne AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership between The Stuart Hall Foundation, CREAM and Westminster School of Arts. Her work focuses on the uses of the imagination in revolutionary cultural production; its relationship to futurity, political demands and ‘imaginative-revolutionary potential’. Her short story, “Red” was shortlisted for the 2020 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing prize. Alongside writing, she facilitates reading groups and workshops, occasionally curates and is volunteer co-ordinator at the Feminist Library.

Harsha Walia is a Panjabi organizer and writer based in Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish Territories. She has been involved in grassroots migrant justice, feminist, abolitionist, anti-capitalist, Palestinian liberation, Indigenous solidarity, and anti-imperialist collectives and movements for over twenty years. She is the award-winning author of Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism (2021) and Undoing Border Imperialism (2013), and co-author of Never Home: Legislating Discrimination in Canadian Immigration (2015), and Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (2019). Her day job is in the anti-violence sector. She wants a world without borders, banks, bitumen, bombs, and bros.

Rafeef Ziadah is a Senior Lecturer in Politics and Public Policy (Emerging Economies) at King’s College London. Her research focuses broadly on political economy, gender and race, with a particular focus on the Middle East and East Africa. Previously she was a Lecturer in the Politics and International Studies department, SOAS University of London and Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the ‘Military Mobilities and Mobilising Movements in the Middle East’ project. Rafeef is co-editor (with Brenna Bhandar) of the book Revolutionary Feminisms (Verso, 2020). Her research on infrastructures and maritime politics has appeared in Antipode; Conflict, Security & Development; International Journal of Urban and Regional Research; Environment and Planning D: Society and Space; among others. Rafeef has worked as a researcher and campaigns organiser with a number of refugee rights and anti-poverty NGOs.

Collaborating organisations

Almas Art Foundation (AAF)  is a London based non-profit organisation that is committed to celebrating the invaluable contributions made by African and African diaspora artists to Modern and contemporary visual arts.  AAF aims to present and create an awareness for the practices of established and mid-career African and African diaspora artists through a programme of publications, exhibitions and films, documenting these artists’ practices for a new generation of African artists, scholars and the wider international art community.  AAF aims to foster collaborations with emerging artists, curators and writers to support the arts ecosystem in Africa and facilitate residencies through partnerships with universities, institutions and independent initiatives.

Migrants in Culture (MiC) is a design agency led by artists, designers and organisers with lived experience of the UK’s Hostile Immigration System. MiC began in 2018 as a volunteer-led advocacy network aiming to make visible and to challenge the impact of the Hostile Environment on the culture sector and its workers. In 2021 MiC pivoted into acting as a design agency and community interest company (CIC), responding to organising elder Zrinka Bralo: “You are culture workers; make me a new culture!”

the other side of hope: journeys in refugee and immigrant literature is a UK-based literary magazine edited by immigrants & refugees. We are proud to be the UK’s first ever literary magazine of Sanctuary, accredited by City of Sanctuary UK. The project is made possible thanks to public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England. We were established in 2021. the other side of hope was created for those who play against all odds, those unsure of every word they write, the frowned upon ones and mostly unwelcomed, the beautiful strangers. It’s a project of understanding, a tiny mirror that reflects those who keep on trying, those who write without hope in the badly lit corners of literature. It’s a project of words that maybe someday will clean a little the great big mirror of life from the slime they throw at our reflections, so that the cruel may be less cruel and the kind kinder. The magazine publishes unthemed poetry and fiction by refugees and immigrants only, and non-fiction, book reviews and author interviews by everyone on the theme of migration.

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