The ethics and politics of the refugee crisis

Researchers from Oxford University and the Open University are working with the Migration Museum Project (MMP), actReal, and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to coordinate an integrated programme of knowledge exchange activities focusing on Europe’s refugee crisis.

The migrant camp in Calais has become a potent symbol of Europe’s refugee crisis.  But its proximity— just twenty miles from our shores —has also raised a series of ethical dilemmas about our relationships to, and responsibilities towards, not-so-distant others.

The crisis has brought together different actors, with multiple contrasting projects, intentions and motivations. This obviously includes refugees and migrants.  But it also involves those who police and regulate migration, those campaigning for more of it, those who support migration for personal benefit, and those who aid migrants out of solidarity and compassion. We have been forced to question the politics and ethics of engagement, including researching and reporting of the crisis.  We have also been compelled to re-evaluate our understandings of hospitality, compassion, justice, citizenship, borders and migration.

As part of Oxford University’s Impact Acceleration Account (IAA), we have a Regional Knowledge Exchange (KE) Partnership with Oxford Brookes, Reading and the Open University (OU).  Professor Engin Isin (OU) and Professor Bridget Anderson from Oxford University are collaborating on in this Regional KE Partnership Accelerating Impact project.

The project team are working with the Migration Museum Project (MMP)actReal, and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in an integrated programme of knowledge exchange activities about migration.  The project has already sponsored a public exhibition in June 2016.  They are also organizing three learning labs, school projects and a showcase event during autumn 2016 that will focus on Europe’s refugee crisis.

These initiatives will strengthen collaboration between academic research, civil society, education and the culture sectors via avenues of creative expression. They will also show and assess the ways in which art, and the ideas inspired through art, can serve as genuine catalysts for positive exchange. Through a blend of art and science, the project will provide refugees with an opportunity to tell their stories about their experiences to people in the UK and around the world.

Professor Isin holds a Chair in Citizenship and is Professor of Politics, in Politics and International Studies (POLIS) in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the Open University. He is also a past director (2007-2009) of the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG).  Bridget Anderson is Professor of Migration and Citizenship, and Research Director of University of Oxford's Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography.


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