Being Human 2017 - Refugee History Citizen Seminar

Being Human 2017 - Refugee History Citizen Seminar

By Hari Reed; Videos by Jack Gill-Taylor

On the 23rd November 2017 Lyndsey Stonebridge – editor of Refugee History and Professor of Modern Literature and History at UEA – was joined by a panel of migration experts at The Forum in Norwich to discuss the city’s most pressing refugee issues. It was an opportunity for open and thoughtful discussion about an impressively wide range of topics raised by both audience members and panellists. Comparisons between “refugee crises” past and present threaded through the evening’s debate, while concerns were raised about the UK’s current political, judicial and journalistic approach to refugees, migrants and asylum seekers. Panel and audience members alike addressed these concerns not in isolation, but as part of a wider social climate of austerity, nationalism, and the intersecting oppressions of class, race and gender within British society.  

The debate was part of a series of refugee-based events run by Refugee History in Norwich for the Being Human Festival 2017. Read reviews of the other events here and here, and watch highlights from the evening’s discussions below.

We are grateful to the guest speakers for bringing their impressive knowledge to bear on a diverse set of refugee issues and for generating such insightful and lively debate:

Omar Khan, Director of Runnymeade Trust / @Runnymedetrust
Rachel Shabi, Journalist and author / @rachshabi
Marchu Girma, Women for Refugee Women / @4refugeewomen
Clive Lewis, MP Norwich South / @labourlewis
Daniel Trilling, Journalist, editor and author / @trillingual ‏

The speakers raise issues regarding various refugee groups:

Child refugee in Europe

Refugee women in the UK

Climate Refugees

The ‘refugee’ vs ‘economic migrant’ debate

Historical comparisons are made between refugees in the past and today:

The treatment of Jewish refugees in the 1930s/40s compared to the treatment of refugees today

Refugees’ particular relation to the Nation-State

The extent to which the refugee situation today is unprecedented

One reason why Germany takes more refugees than the UK

The UK’s attitudes and actions towards refugees are considered:

The UK’s media coverage of refugees

Hannah Arendt and indefinite detention

The benefits of regularising undocumented asylum seekers

Refugees’ experiences with the Home Office

And finally, possible sources of hope for the future...

When the British government expects volunteers to help refugees, it’s back to the 1930s

When the British government expects volunteers to help refugees, it’s back to the 1930s

We Must Not Repeat the Shameful History of Returning Rohingya Refugees

We Must Not Repeat the Shameful History of Returning Rohingya Refugees