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Conferences Archive (2019-2020)


The Refugee Crisis

Click to view images from the conference!

October 24 and 25, 2019
Institute for the Humanities

Conference Description:
The world is in the grip of an international refugee crisis. Over 68 million people have been displaced from their homes due to wars, state collapse, persecution, terrorism, poverty, and climate catastrophes. While these numbers have never been greater, many refugee destination countries have responded with restrictionist and anti-immigrant policies. Those seeking refuge are treated as unwelcome intruders and are subject to marginalization, dehumanizing detention, or deportation. The precarious position of refugees is further exacerbated by unstable conditions in host states. This conference gathers scholars, activists, and artists to examine the refugee crisis from a comparative regional perspective. Through panels, storytelling, lectures, and performances, it will interrogate the conditions that have led to the crisis; critically examine existing legal definitions of refugees; analyze responses to the crisis by governments, organizations, activists, and refugees; and explore new strategies for protecting and accommodating precarious populations.

Location: room 605 Student Center East, 750 South Halsted, University of Illinois at Chicago

October 24:

9:30-10:00 Breakfast and Welcome


     I. Refugee Histories: what can historicizing the crisis teach us about our current conditions?

Moderator: Adam Goodman (UIC)

Tara Zahra (University of Chicago)
“Family Separation in Refugee History”

Lynette Jackson (UIC)
“A Historical Contextualization of Refugees and/of the New World (Dis)order”

Evan Taparata (University of Pennsylvania)
“State of Refuge: Refugee Policy and State-Building in the Long 19th Century United States”

12:15-1 Lunch


     II. Keynote Address

Introduction: Andreas Feldmann (UIC)

T. Alexander Aleinikoff (The New School)
“The Arc of Protection: Reforming the International Refugee Regime”

3-4:45 PM

     III. Refugee Voices: Refugees speak of the crisis in their own words.

Moderator: Patrisia Macías-Rojas (UIC)

Omar Awadh (UIC)

Suhaib Ibrahim (GSG Consultant)

Tedros Markos (journalist)

Michael Yemane, Viator House of Hospitality

5 PM Reception

October 25:

8:30-9:00 Breakfast


     IV. Refugees in a Global Context: how can different regional contexts illuminate the urgent challenges presented by the crisis? Issues to be discussed in this context could include restrictionism, populism, etc.

Moderator: Lynette Jackson (UIC)

Andreas Feldmann (UIC)
“The Evisceration of State Power and the New Challenges for Refugee Protection in Latin America”

Kemal Kirişci (Brookings Institution)
“Operationalizing the Global Compact on Refugees and Turkey: Prospects and Challenges to Supporting Self-Reliance of Refugees and Resilience of Host Communities”

Amal Hassan Fadlalla (University of Michigan)
“From Sudan to America: Reflections on Diaspora and Revolution”


     V. Refugees and Precarities–A conversation: how are precarious conditions in origin and destination nations/regions affecting the conditions of refugees and the possibilities for protection and aid?

Moderator: Sultan Tepe (UIC)

Ogenga Otunnu (DePaul University)
“The Causes and Consequences of Refugee and Forced Migration in Africa”

Noelle Kateri Brigden (Marquette University)
“Justified Migrations from Central America: Asylum Caravans and Accountability Claims”

12:45-1:30 Lunch


     VI. Refugee Writing/Writing Refugees: how are creative artists responding to the refugee crisis?

Introduced by Daniel Borzutzky (UIC)

Daniel Borzutzky (UIC)

Faisal Mohyuddin (Highland Park High School)

Osama Alomar (Syrian author)


     VII. New Futures: What possibilities can be found–within or outside governments, NGOs, and activist communities—to address the refugee crisis?

Moderator: Amy Shannon (Alianza Americas)

María Cristina García (Cornell University)
“The Climate/Asylum Nexus: How Will We Respond to the Climate Refugees’?”

Sarah Dávila-Ruhaak (UIC School of Law)
“Protecting the Vulnerable: A Legal Imperative for Asylum Representation”

Helena Olea Rodríguez (UIC)
“Knocking Down Asylum Hurdles in the Central American-Mexico Corridor”

5:30 Reception

Conference Organizers: Mark Canuel, Andreas E. Feldmann, Lynette Jackson, Sultan Tepe

Click to view images from the conference!

Explore these resources for more information about the refugee crisis:

Click here for a full list of readings

Fitzgerald and Arar 2019

Betts Survival Migration

Betts and Collier 2017 Part 1
Betts and Collier 2017 Part 2

UNHCR Refugee report 2018 Introduction
UNHCR Refugee report 2018 Chapter 1 Part 1
UNHCR Refugee report 2018 Chapter 1 Part 2
UNHCR Refugee report 2018 Chapter 2
UNHCR Refugee report 2018 Chapters 3-5
UNHCR Refugee report 2018 Chapters 6-9

Zolberg et al 1989 Part 1
Zolberg et al 1989 Part 2

Did you miss the Refugee Crisis conference, October 24th and 25th, at the Institute for the Humanities at UIC?  CAN TV filmed part of our conference, and it is now available on video! See the links below!

Refugee Histories Panel:
Tara Zahra (University of Chicago)
Lynette Jackson (UIC)
Evan Taparata (University of Pennsylvania)

Refugee Crisis Keynote
T. Alexander Aleinikoff (The New School)

Can a River be a Person? Indigeneity, Law, and Climate Change

November 1, 2019

Institute for the Humanities, 701 South Morgan, Stevenson Hall Lower Level

This workshop brings together scholars, lawyers, and activists to explore the concept of environmental rights. Western ontology enshrines a distinction between life (bios) and nonlife (geos), and between persons and property. In this system the earth is already dead. Putting legal scholars, indigenous lawyers, and native theorists in conversation with each other, participants will explore the possibilities of a future ontology. This exciting workshop will feature a plenary talk by Elizabeth Povinelli, Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at Columbia University.

9 – 9:30 Breakfast

9:30-10 Welcome and introductions

10 – 12 Perspectives on the Environment
Moderator: Ralph Cintrón, English & Latin American and Latino Studies

  1. Bernard Perley, Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
    “Wolastok: Remembering the Maliseet River of Life”
  2. Michael Barsa, Pritzer School of Law, Northwestern University
    “Nature Isn’t One Thing:  Environmental Law, Standing Doctrine, and Ecosystem Rights”
  3. Gwendolyn Gordon, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
    “Three Theories of Environmental Personhood”
  4. Molly Doane, Anthropology, University of Illinois at Chicago
    “Scalar Affects of the Anthropocene in Chicago Community Gardens”
  5. Hayley Negrin, History, University of Illinois at Chicago
    “From Landscapes to Riverscapes: Algonquian Power and Placemaking in Early Chesapeake Bay”

12 – 1 Lunch

1 – 2:30   Case Study: the Rights of Manoomin (Wild Rice)

Moderator: Casey Corcoran, English, University of Illinois at Chicago

  1. Richard Monette, Law School, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    “Can a Person be a River? — how Turtle used Corn, Squash, and Beans to create Sovereignty”
  2. Frank Bibeau, Tribal Attorney
    “Rights of Manoomin (wild rice)”
  3. Mari Margil, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
    “Building a Global Movement for the Legal Rights of Nature”

2:30 -3     Break

3 – 5   Elizabeth Povinelli, Anthropology and Gender Studies, Columbia University
“Where is the River? Acts of Attention and the Extensions of Existence”

Introducer: Molly Doane, Anthropology, University of Illinois at Chicago

5 -6 Reception

Conference organizers Ralph Cintrón, English & Latino and Latin American Studies and Molly Doane, Anthropology

Click here to register!

Resources and Visibility in Digital Humanities

Digital Humanities Poster

Originally Scheduled for April 2019. Due to COVID-19, postponed until October 22-23, 2020.

University of Illinois at Chicago

–Inaugural conference for the Digital Humanities Initiative
–Organized by Hannah Huber, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Digital Humanities

The inaugural conference for the Digital Humanities Initiative addresses two topical themes—Resources and Visibility—in addition to a general track: The place of race, class, and sexuality in DH. The Initiative is in the process of gathering an exciting range of speakers across the disciplines to share their research in the hopes that the conference will inspire debate about the state and future of DH.

The conference will be free and open to the public, with the intention of engaging participants from universities and the general public across Illinois.
Panels and keynotes take place in the Institute for the Humanities (701 South Morgan).
Workshops will take place in the Main Library (801 South Morgan).


Workshop: “Teaching Digital Culture” with Carly Kocurek, IIT

Workshop:“Teaching with Digital Archives” with Elizabeth Hopwood, Loyola University Chicago

Keynote: Moya Bailey, Northeastern University
• “Humans in the Digital Supply Chain”

Keynote Sara Schwebel, UIUC
• “Children’sLiterature as Public History: Bridging Divides Within and Beyond theAcademy”

TBA Fall, 2020

Organized by Julia Vaingurt and Matthew Kendall, Polish, Russian, and Lithuanian Studies