Brighton Law School blog

MARS Refugee Festival

by the Migrant And Refugee Solidarity group
at the University of Brighton
18:00, room G7, 10-11 Pavilion Parade, BN2 1RA

Attitudes towards refugees and migrants are worsening across Europe. Xenophobic parties are on the rise, states are sealing their borders and, after the peak of 2015-6, public interest has declined. This year’s MARS festival evolves around the public reading of short stories from the Refugee Tales series, combining with interviews and discussions.

Friday 4 May, 18:00 – TELLING – The Interpreter’s Tale
The language barrier often denies the refugees the opportunity to tell their stories, to claw back their agency, to demand their rights, to communicate their needs. Interpreting from one language to another is of paramount importance for the refugee experience. But it is a difficult task. The choices of words and phrases that are available to translators are endless. (How do you translate the term ‘illegal migrant’?). Taking the wrong turn can lead to a whole range of problems and misunderstandings. It can also mean the rejection of your asylum application.

The event will contain the following parts:
– Reading of ‘The Interpreter’s Tale’ by its author, the poet and critic Carol Watts (reading from the Refugee Tales collection published in 2016).
– First-hand account and skype discussion with Lina Mounzer, writer and translator living and working in Beirut, plus a short reading of extracts from her essay ‘War in Translation: Giving Voice to the Women of Syria’
– Listening to recordings of short poems from the poet and activist Abed Alaziz, currently a refugee in Athens.
– expert update on current immigration policy, with Jo Wilding focusing on the important role that translation plays in the asylum process.
The event will be hosted by Dr Louise Purbrick.

Friday 11 May, 18:00 – LISTENING – The Unaccompanied Minors’ Tale
The stories of unaccompanied refugee children often stand out as symbols of the vulnerability of refugees: leaving their loved ones behind them; putting their fate in the hands of others; leaping into the unknown; learning a new life. Our reactions to their stories exemplify our sensitivities – and our limitations. Britain has long prided in its readiness to look after unaccompanied minors, from the Kindertransport children from Nazi Germany to the Dubs amendment of 2016. But does it make sense to cut their stories off from the bigger picture of the refugee experience. What stories would the kids tell us if we were really listening? And how is Britain fairing in its treatment of ‘unaccompanied minors’?

The event consists of the following parts:
– Spoken word artist Akila Richard read Inua Ellams’s ‘The Unaccompanied Minors’ Tale’ (from Refugee Tales 2016).
– William Eiduks tells his story as a child refugee in the 1950s at the Pestalozzi School.

–  Zeina Maasri reads extracts from Ghassan Kanafani’s ’The Land of the Sad Orange’, 80 years on from the Nakba.
– Discussion with Bridget Chapman on a teaching project in Folkstone.
The event will be hosted by Professor Marie-Bénédicte Dembour.

Friday 18 May, 18:00 – TAKING ACTION – The Lorry Driver’s Tale
It is often said that borders breed dualities and paradoxes. Today we treat borders as solid, but history shows us they are not. On the map they are often the only sign of human presence on the planet, while they are so inhumane. As mental constructs separating people and societies they are both notoriously powerful and amazingly brittle. For refugees, crossing a border is one of the most difficult moments of their journey, getting more difficult by the year. How do they deal with this challenge? What new paths, new synergies and ideas have emerged across the borders of ‘Fortress Europe’?

The event will contain:
– A reading of the ‘The Lorry Driver’s Tale’ (from Refugee Tales 2016) by teacher and man of letters Martin Nichols.

– Bob Morton will propose a Declaration on the Right to Act Humanely.
– An expert discussion on current border policies, cultures and mentalities.
– Some impromptu collective poetry-making!
The event will be hosted by Dr Eugene Michail.

All our events are FREE, open to all, and for educational purposes.
Screenings take place in room G7 at the ground floor of 10-11 Pavilion Parade – BN2 1RA
Unfortunately there is no step-free access to the room.

For further information, please click here
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Abigail Gillett • 30/04/2018

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