Alison Phipps Lecture

28 November 2017
Social Sciences Lecture Theatre, UWA
General Public, Faculty/Staff, Students, Alumni

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Alison Phipps

Visas, Visits and Refusals: working in the borderzones of resilience, distress and wellbeing

A public talk by Professor Alison Phipps, the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts at the University of Glasgow

At times of great human suffering we see extraordinary courage and compassion. Receiving communities across Europe, such as Calais and Lesbos, have led with creativity, practical action, and costly generosity. Individuals and local groups have led where larger institutions and some governments have been slow, reluctant and mired in outdated thinking and ineffective solutions.

At the same time we have witnessed a rise in xenophobia and structural violence against refugees. This is something that Europe has witnessed before, in the aftermath of the Second World War, and we have much to learn from history. The last time Europe faced such numbers of refugees, it failed. In the face of this failure, in December 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the 56 members of the United Nations. These very articles however, are now in peril.

In this talk, Alison Phipps will make a poetic and critical reflection on the borderzones and visa regimes operating across several large academic and artistic projects. She will argue that when homes, livelihoods, dignity and lives are destroyed, those of us with privilege and mandates should offer solidarity, practical action and learn from those with direct experience, rather than relying on second hand assumptions.

This presentation will also consider what it means to bear witness. Professor Phipps will discuss the uncomfortable, provoking and transformative dimensions of being physically immersed in experiences of refusal and separation and how it changes those who are witnesses, often profoundly.  

Professor Alison Phipps is the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts at the University of Glasgow and Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies. She is the co-convener of the Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network. She was Distinguished Visiting Professor (2013-2016) at the University of Waikato, Thinker in Residence at the EU Hawke Centre for Mobilities, Migrations and Cultural Transformations at the University of South Australia in 2016, and Visiting Professor at Auckland University of Technology. Alison is Principal Investigator for the £2 million AHRC Large Grant ‘Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language, the Body, Law and the State.’ In 2012, Alison received an OBE for Services to Education and Intercultural and Interreligious Relations in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Society of Arts, and of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Professor Phipps is a visiting Keynote Speaker at the 2017 Australian Sociological Association Conference being held at UWA from 27 -30 November.