Refugee History brings the Being Human Festival to Norwich

Refugee History brings the Being Human Festival to Norwich

Refugee History is hosting four events in Norwich city centre between the 17th and 25th November as part of the Being Human festival 2017. Being Human is the UK’s only national festival of the humanities, dedicated to sharing with non-academic audiences the most challenging and relevant thinking within humanities research today. Being Human asks key questions, inspires big debates, and provides engaging activities for all ages.

The festival encourages universities to engage with their local communities in order to show how the humanities inspire and enrich our everyday lives, help us to understand ourselves and others, and provide us with the tools we need to face new global challenges. In 2016, Being Human events took place in 45 towns and cities across the UK and reached 33,000 people.

Refugee History was selected to be part of Being Human 2017, and has taken inspiration from this year’s festival theme – ‘lost and found’ – to develop four events based on the refugee’s experience of losing and finding home. These events draw on refugee history, memory and culture to create a forum for public engagement with several urgent, practical questions: ‘what is home?’; ‘what does it mean to lose or find home?’; ‘how are refugees politically and historically, as well as literally, homeless?’ Being Human’s presence in Norwich provides a great opportunity to communicate publicly both the general importance of humanities research, and the specific need to open neutral spaces of discussion about refugee and migration issues.

Now that superciliousness and belligerence dominate political rhetoric both at home and abroad, Being Human is a timely reminder that the humanities can offer essential tools for debate, and a language with which to articulate and interpret complex questions about our lives – one that doesn’t distil into a politics of fear.

Refugee History’s four Being Human events demonstrate not only how valuable humanities research is to all parts of society and culture, but in particular how valuable the humanities are where questions about refugees, asylum and statelessness are concerned. Marginalised and destitute voices have typically ‘found a home’ in the humanities, whose ability to host the unhostable is dependent on its critical approach to exclusionary border-structures. These events pay homage to that historical act of generosity, while showing why this trend must be allowed to continue.

Find out more about the four events below:

Borderline Performance and Protection Approaches Workshop

Image: Severine Sajous

Image: Severine Sajous

Borderline is a satire of the Calais Jungle devised by an ensemble of refugee and European performers, and directed by Sophie NL Besse. This brave and original take on a controversial topic features seven refugees from Afghanistan, Sudan and Syria, who experienced Calais first-hand, and six British, French and Chilean experts in physical comedy. Borderline highlights the absurd aspects of European border control, and reveals a side of the ‘Jungle’ camp that is rarely seen: the camaraderie, resilience and ingenuity of its inhabitants.

The performance will be followed by a Q&A with the cast and a workshop run by Protection Approaches. The workshop will focus on individual stories of identity-based violence, using role play and interactive activities to show the audience how to identify processes that lead to identity-based hatred.

Event Details

Date: Tuesday 22nd November Time: 16:30-19:45
Location: The Garage Theatre, NR2 1NY.  
Cost: Free
Accessibility: Information here: www.thegarage.org.uk/about-us/your-visit.

This event is for school students only. If you are interested in booking tickets for a group of students at a school or college please email h.reed@uea.ac.uk or call 07709988228.


Jungle Protestimony: An Echo of the Camp  

Image: Habib Sadat

Image: Habib Sadat

Protestimony is a visual and interactive art exhibition that communicates an alternative story about the “refugee crisis”. It challenges the dehumanising language of mainstream media using paintings, documentaries, animations, sculptures and illustrations created by refugees and volunteers who lived in the Calais camp. The artworks are displayed in reconstructed shelters from the Jungle, which hint at the conditions many refugees lived in for months on end.

Protestimony speaks about the difficulty of representing refugees today, and of finding any simple ‘truth’ about the refugee crisis. It also documents the work of the volunteer organisations that operated in the Jungle and reminds visitors of the ongoing nature of the crisis. Protestimony was developed by the organisation IMAGINE @ImagineAsso // www.assoimagine.co.uk.

Event Details:

Date: 17th-25th November Time: 11:00-17:30 every day
Location: Norwich Cathedral, NR1 4DH.
Cost: Free
Accessibility: Unfortunately no wheelchair access.


Reels of History: “On the Bride’s Side” Screening

Image: Zawya

Image: Zawya

'On the Bride’s Side’ is a timely look at the refugee crisis. Winner of Venice International Film Festival’s Human Rights Nights Award, it is an unexpected take on the immigrant road movie. In this film, a Palestinian poet and an Italian journalist meet five Palestinians and Syrians in Milan who have fled the war in Syria. They help them complete their journey to Sweden by faking a wedding. With one friend dressed as the bride, they cross half of Europe on a four-day journey of three thousand kilometres.

This film will be followed by a Q&A with Salah El Nagar, a Norwich-based writer, activist and refugee from Egypt, whose work challenges misconceptions about Islam and promotes freedom and human rights. The film is shown as part of the ‘Reels of History’ series in conjunction with Cinema City education.

Event Details

Date: Wednesday 22nd November Time: 20:30-22:30
Location: Cinema City, NR2 4AD
Cost: Book tickets here: https://www.picturehouses.com/cinema/Cinema_City
Accessibility: Info here: https://www.picturehouses.com/cinema/info/Cinema_City#disabled-access

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UEA Refugee History ‘Question Time’ Panel

Image: Habib Sadat

Image: Habib Sadat

This is a ‘Question Time’-style event in which politicians, journalists, academics, refugees and third sector organisations address local and national refugee questions. It’s hard to pin down clear facts and explanations about the current refugee situation, so in this event the audience’s queries and concerns will be answered by Clive Lewis MP (Norwich South), journalist Rachel Shabi, investigative author Daniel Trilling, campaigner and refugee Ahmad Al-Rashid and Omar Khan from the Runnymede Trust.

The panel will provide a rational debate about a highly emotive issue. It will be a chance to reflect not only on the expert information provided, but also on the type of information we usually receive about refugee and migration issues, and where we receive it from.

Date: Thursday 23rd November Time: 19:30-21:00
Location: The Forum, NR2 1BH
Cost: Free
Accessibility: Info here: http://www.theforumnorwich.co.uk/accessibility

If you have a question you would like to ask the panel, or if you are interested in bringing a group of school students to this event, please email h.reed@uea.ac.uk.


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The Being Human festival is led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

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