Decolonizing Stories of Displacement: Interrogating the Category of “The Refugee”
The category of “the refugee” is fraught. Evocative of rock-bottom destitution, “the refugee” is marked as someone who is deserving of recognition and state protection. The category is critical to localized and globalized forms of human rights advocacy. At the same time, it obscures histories of peoples’ relationships to land and their movements across regional terrains long before the development of nation-state borders. The goal of this workshop is to generate a discussion among participants about the category of “the refugee” in their specific field sites and research settings through a decolonial lens. How do you deploy the category in your work, what are its limitations, and what forms of political imagination become possible by contesting it?
Presented by Natalie Nesvaderani.
Co-creating belonging through safe spaces in migrant community projects: A decolonial approach?
This paper reflects on belonging as a ‘feeling of our times’, albeit a political one that attempts to move past a superficial libertarian focus on harmony. Instead, through the case study of a recent migrant community project with a creative outcome based in South West Sydney, I examine what belonging looks and feels like when the focus is on co-creating cultural safety through approaches that favour reciprocity and creativity. This lens on belonging also reverses the discursive construction of new migrants as those requiring integration initiatives to fit in, or of certain others in need of de-radicalisation. Instead, it asks – what will make them feel safe enough to invest in local and national communities?
Therefore, this paper spotlights the following aspects of ‘belonging’: a) it is more effective than ‘identity’ as a point of solidarity in the 21st century; b) it needs to be seen as a ‘reciprocal affect’ and not just as an individual feeling to make solidarity possible; c) its manifestation in the local and/or the creative is a way to ground and enable reciprocal affect, re-conceptualise and co-create belonging that is more culturally mobile while being safe. These conclusions are illustrated through the feedback obtained from the participants of the project, as well as from audience members present at the screen and industry mentors who facilitated the technical workshops. As such, the paper re-conceptualises belonging from the ground up, and considers whether this is a decolonial approach.
Presented by Sukmani Khorana.