from Dr Hannah Lewis, University of Sheffield, and Dr Louise Waite, University of Leeds
We are organising a session on welcoming refugees at an international ‘critical urban studies’ conference that will take place in Leeds 11-13 September.
We are particularly interested to include local perspectives from practitioners and individuals involved in being welcomed, or welcoming refugees. What is your experience of a ‘welcome city’?
We invite diverse contributions – an anecdote, a video, a story. We are particularly interested to hear reflections on the practical challenges that the wave of recent ‘welcoming’ has posed for organising and distributing donations to refugees, or of how national policies may stand in the way of local welcoming.
There will be a registration fee for the conference, but if you are a volunteer, or from an organisation that would be unable to pay such a fee, please mention this in your submission and we will do what we can to facilitate your involvement.
If you want any help in putting together a submission I am happy to assist.
Call for Papers – one week until deadline, 10th March
The Welcome City?
RC21 Conference, Rethinking Global Urban Justice, University of Leeds, 11-13 September
Dr Hannah Lewis, University of Sheffield
Dr Louise Waite, University of Leeds
Deadline: 10 March 2017
- Can every day urban acts of ‘welcoming’ challenge a national politics of hostility? This session aims to consider different narratives of ‘welcome’ experienced by new arrivals in Leeds and other UK cities. In early September 2015, a photo of Alan Kurdi, a drowned young boy, catapulted the growing Mediterranean refugee ‘crisis’ into the realm of global moral concern. This led to a spontaneous and somewhat surprisingly compassionate response of the public that resulted in both material outcomes for refugees (e.g. clothes donations) and consciousness raising. The momentum towards compassion has since been substantially challenged. A populist, nationalist and arguably xenophobic politics has triumphed in the polls, with the UK voting to leave the European Union. Despite some relatively small gestures of sanctuary to selective Syrian refugees, the UK government is brazenly continuing its direction of travel to create ‘discomfort and hostility’ for refused asylum seekers and irregular migrants. These insidious policies paradoxically create the need for the kinds of exchange, solidarity and counter-power being spear-headed by civil society at the local level under the ‘refugees welcome’ banner. This session invites papers which ask how politics of compassion emerge in urban spaces. We welcome exploration of the juxtaposition of both utopian and dystopian visions of the city for refugees and other newcomers:
- Is compassion inevitably ephemeral, or can it translate into a lasting transformative politics to welcome newcomers?
- Are refugees a special case demanding ‘welcome’? How does this differ from the response to other newcomers, such as migrant workers, homeless populations, gypsies and travellers, or mobile elites?
- How do asylum seekers negotiate urban resettlement in the face of hostile bureaucracies and a national xenophobic and racist politics?
- Does ‘the welcome city’ connect responses to human mobility at different scales; from individuals, civil society and faith based organisations, through to political actors and intra-national bodies such as the EU?
We encourage practitioner perspectives, alongside those of researchers inside or outside of academia.
Abstract submission guidelines and conference information: https://rc21leeds2017.wordpress.com/