CfP: Cultural Representations of the ‘European Refugee Crisis’

8th Nordic Geographers Meeting in Trondheim, Norway, June 16 – 19 2019

Session Conveners:

Kathy Burrell, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Liverpool

Kathrin Hörschelmann, Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography Leipzig (IfL) and Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Germany

While the so called ‘European refugee crisis’ has been dominating continental geo-political discussions, it has also increasingly become an important reference point for different forms of cultural representation in Europe – the ‘refugee crisis’ is now firmly embedded in public imagination. With the rise of xenophobic sentiment and anti-immigration politics across Europe showing no signs of abating, it is more urgent than ever to find effective ways to challenge this, and to think about how different forms of cultural-political engagement may be able to counter the perpetuation of racist tropes in public discourse.

In this session, we seek to explore what cultural representations, such as artistic engagements and other forms of storytelling projects, can contribute here (Burrell & Hörschelmann, 2018; Cameron, 2012; Eastmond, 2007). We ask what tools are available to centre the experiences of refugees within this context, and what the possibilities, and dangers, of doing so are. In particular, to what extent can different kinds of artistic and creative forms of intervention, commentary and storytelling do radical and decolonial work? What are their limitations?

We invite papers that discuss examples of such engagements and stories – music, theatre projects, art installations, exhibitions etc. – asking amongst other things:

  • What are the possibilities for artistic engagements and different forms of storytelling to disrupt dominant racialized framings of refugees?
  • Who is telling whose stories, how are they being told?
  • What is centred and what is silenced?
  • What happens in encounters with such artistic productions, and when the stories are told?
  • How can tensions surrounding representation and appropriation be negotiated? What forms of practice lend themselves to this?
  • How do different place based and contextual conditions effect the work that artists, as storytellers, can do and how their work is perceived?


Please email proposed paper abstracts of around 200 words to kburrell@liverpool.ac.uk and K_Hoerschelmann@ifl-leipzig.de by 15 December 2018.