In the lead-up to International Migrants Day (18 December), IOM UK and partners organised an eclectic and engaging showcase event held which combined a panel discussion, an exhibition portraying voices and stories from the Calais camps and beyond, a theatre performance screening and live illustration.
The panel discussion moderated by Timothy Large, award-winning journalist and editor, provided a forum for informed debate on the Evolving Dynamics of the Refugee and Migrant Response with speakers Elspeth Guild, Professor of Law at Queen Mary, University of London and Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands and Dipti Pardeshi, IOM Chief of Mission in the UK.
Dipti Pardeshi put the evolving migrant and refugee dynamics into perspective and reflected on how crucial it is for everyone to work together to respond to the current migrant and refugee challenges as an opportunity. She noted that: “At the UN General Assembly Summit this September, world leaders took the important decision to launch a process of intergovernmental negotiations leading to the adoption of two much-needed international compacts: on one hand, a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration; and on the other a Global Compact on Refugees.The decision to develop these compacts is a momentous one. The promise of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is that migration, like other areas of international relations, will at last be guided by a set of common principles and approaches”.
Professor Elspeth Guild added reflections on the importance of language when discussing refugees and migrants: “When one wishes to speak about people in a positive manner, who are forced to move from one place to another, refugees is unassailable. We are at the moment at a crossroads in the transformation of the international framework of law and politics on movement of persons. This has opened a whole new framework to how we are going to use language and think about migration”.
To illustrate how different actors are involved in framing migration, selected works from the Migration Museum Project's exhibition “Call me by my name: stories from Calais and beyond” were presented, as well as a screening of a theatre performance by students from City & Islington College, exploring media representations of migration.
This event was part of the Ethics and Politics of the Refugee Crisis programme, an integrated programme of knowledge exchange activities including an art exhibition, learning labs and school theatre projects, in partnership with Citizenship and Governance research at The Open University, Centre for Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford, the Migration Museum Project, ActREAL and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Throughout the project, “not only have we been forced to question the politics and ethics of engagement, including researching and reporting of the refugee and migrant issues, but we have also been compelled to revaluate our understandings of hospitality, compassion, justice, citizenship, borders and migration”, explained Bridget Anderson, Professor of Migration and Citizenship and Research Director of COMPAS at the University of Oxford.
These initiatives are to further long-term and critical-reflective collaboration between academic research, civil society, education, and the culture sectors via avenues of creative expression. This programme demonstrates but also assesses the ways in which art, and the ideas inspired through art, can serve as genuine catalysts for positive exchange.
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