Asylum "Stories" and the Ethics of (Self)representation

Asylum "Stories" and the Ethics of (Self)representation

March 29, 2022; 3:30 PM CEST

This session explores the experience of forced migration through refugee writing and storytelling. We look at the entanglement of literary and legal technologies in the asylum decision-making process as it operates today in juridical, advocacy and creative circles and, in particular, at the narrative constraints placed on forced migrants who must conform to a particular ‘story’ of persecution. Through readings of literary representations of refugees by contemporary writers, we consider the role of (self)narrativization in the context of humanitarian advocacy and as counter-narratives to dominant media representations.

Presenters: Manzoor Hasan (BRAC) + Rebecca Granata (Bard) + Jessica Olney (BRAC)

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Learning Outcomes

By the end of this session, you will have:

·  considered the role of the asylum ‘story’ in the process of refugee status determination

·  explored how contemporary writers have engaged with refugee stories

·  analysed refugee writers’ approach to self-narrativisation


Set Texts (to be read in advance)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, ‘The American Embassy’ in The Thing Around Your Neck (Fourth Estate, 2017), pp. 128-141.

Hassan Blasim, ‘The Reality and the Record’ in Madinah: City Stories from the Middle East

ed. by Joumana Haddad, trans. by Jonathan Wright (Comma Press, 2008)

Selected stories from Refugee Tales ed. by David Herd and Anna Pincus (Commas Press, 2016).