Event: From Identity to Precarity: Asylum, State Violence, and Alternative Horizons for Queer Citizenship

A Talk with David K. Seitz

January 8th 12:30-2:00pm

BSIA Multipurpose Room 142

This talk puts queer theory’s “subjectless critique” of identity to work in challenging the state’s biopolitical use of essential, authentic identities in asylum law and practice. It both builds on and departs from existing scholarship that calls on state actors to recognize a wider range of forms of gender and sexual diversity that make people vulnerable to persecution. By contrast, I investigate how the practices of “destination” countries produce asylums-seekers as dispossessed, deportable, precarious queers — regardless of sexual identity or practice. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with asylum-seekers and their supporters in Toronto, I highlight the waiting room as one type of material and metaphorical space that produces asylum-seekers as liminal queer subjects. I argue that approaching queerness as precarity, rather than lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender identity or even sexual and gender diversity, provides alternative and expansive ethical horizons for queer and migration politics.


David K. Seitz is a cultural geographer broadly interested in questions of desire, difference, and citizenship. He is assistant professor of cultural geography at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California, and contributes to the Intercollegiate Feminist Center and the American Studies program at the Claremont Colleges. His first book A House of Prayer for All People: Contesting Citizenship in a Queer Church was released in November by the University of Minnesota Press. An urban ethnography that centrally engages geographies of citizenship, queer of color critique, and psychoanalytic theory, the book examines the politics of urban, national and transnational solidarity at a large, predominantly LGBTQ church in Toronto.

“Illustration by Annie Mok, courtesy of Mask magazine.”

Free Event.    A light lunch will be offered.

Please RSVP to Eventbrite: Identity

Note: We will hold your registration until 12:20 PM. After 12:20 PM your spot will be released to the wait list. A reminder that free parking is available on the streets surrounding the CIGI Campus, in the museum lot across Erb St. and in the Uptown Waterloo Plaza parking lots. Please enter the School through the Erb Street doors.

For more information, please contact the organizer via email [email protected]. To receive email updates about future International Migration Research Centre Events please join our listserv by emailing us or visit our News and Events page at imrc.ca.

Event: The Rohingyas: A Case of the ‘Sub-human’ in Myanmar and Bangladesh

Join IMRC for an informative talk about the state of life in the Rohingya diaspora.

December 5, 2017 3:00-5:00 PM
Balsillie School of International Affairs, 67 Erb St. W, Waterloo
Multipurpose Room 1-42

The Rohingyas, an ethno-linguistic and religious minority of Myanmar and known as the most persecuted people in the world, have recently experienced a horrible ‘genocide’ perpetrated by Myanmar security forces and vigilantes. The United Nations Human Rights Council has called this a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. Under the pretext of an attack by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on August 25, 2017, Myanmar security forces killed thousands of civilian Rohingyas, burnt their houses down, and raped hundreds of girls and women. These attacks triggered an exodus of more than 600,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh, and added to the existing 500,000 refugees in the area. Already resource-poor and overcrowded, the Southeastern part of Bangladesh is now hosting more than one million Rohingyas. The Rohingyas are now suffering from inadequate food, shelter, sanitation, and health care, as well as the minimum standard of living. Many international rights bodies and media outlets have called this ‘the biggest humanitarian catastrophe’ in the near past.

Local people are gradually becoming ‘unwelcoming’ since more than one million additional people have begun to share local resources, livelihood sources, scopes of occupation, and social utilities. Therefore, the Rohingyas are ‘struggling for existence’ and thinking of where to go, what to do, and how to survive. If we consider the intensity of brutality and the degree of atrocity committed by the state forces, the Rohingyas in Myanmar have been treated as though they are not human beings. In Bangladesh, the Rohingyas are now left in the state of an obscured past, critical present and an uncertain future. Why the Rohingyas are going through such a grave experience is the result of not belonging to any state – Myanmar stripped them of their citizenship four decades ago and Bangladesh does not even recognize them as refugees. The Rohingyas, therefore, do not exist in the world in a legal framework.

This talk argues that the empirically grounded evidence on the current state of Rohingyas in the borderland of Bangladesh and Myanmar shows a life that is less than human, what Uddin refers to as being treated as “sub-human”.

About the speaker

Nasir UddinNasir Uddin is a cultural anthropologist based in Bangladesh and a professor of anthropology at the University of Chittagong. His research interests include statelessness and refugee studies; human rights and non-citizens; indigeneity and identity politics; the state in everyday life; the politics of marginality and vulnerability; and borderlands and border people, particularly those of Bangladesh and Myanmar, the Chittagong Hill Tracts, and South Asia. His publications include To Host or To Hurt: Counter-narratives on the Rohingya (Refugees) in Bangladesh (2012); Life in Peace and Conflict: Indigeneity and State in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (2017) and Indigeneity on the Move: Varying Manifestation of a Contested Concept (2017). Currently he is working on a monograph, the Rohingyas: A Tale of Sub-Human (2018).

Please RSVP on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/the-rohingyas-a-case-of-the-sub-human-in-myanmar-and-bangladesh-tickets-40153395888?aff=es2

Note: We will hold your registration until 2:55 PM. After 2:55 PM your spot will be released to the wait list. A reminder that free parking is available on the streets surrounding the CIGI Campus, in the museum lot across Erb St. and in the Uptown Waterloo Plaza parking lots. Please enter the School through the Erb Street doors.

For more information, please contact the organizer via email [email protected]. To receive email updates about future International Migration Research Centre Events please join our listserv by emailing us or visit our News and Events page at imrc.ca.

Support IMRC’s Annual Dr. Kerry Preibisch Lecture Series

On November 16, 2017 IMRC hosted the 2nd Annual Kerry Preibisch Lecture Series – Film Screening of Migrant Dreams: A Film by Min Sook Lee and Lecture with Min Sook Lee and Q&A

Dr. Kerry Preibisch was a prolific scholar in the area of social justice and migration, who died of cancer in January, 2016, at the height of her career. The intention of this annual memorial lecture/event will be to add to the myriad ways that scholars and students can keep her research and vision of promoting migrants’ human rights alive into the future. Invited speakers must bring a global social justice perspective to their lecture pertaining to migration, and are encouraged to engage directly with Kerry’s work.

Please show your support by donating to the Kerry Preibisch Scholarship Fund

Welcome and Introduction
Lecture with Min Sook Lee
Film Screening – Migrant Dreams

A powerful feature documentary by multiple award-winning director Min Sook Lee (El Contrato, Hogtown, Tiger Spirit) and Emmy award-winning producer Lisa Valencia-Svensson (Herman’s House), tells the undertold story of migrant agricultural workers struggling against Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) that treats foreign workers as modern-day indentured labourers. Under the rules of Canada’s migrant labour program, low wage migrants are tied to one employer. …

Migrant Dreams exposes the underbelly of the Canadian government labour program that has built a system designed to empower brokers and growers to exploit, dehumanize and deceive migrant workers who have virtually no access to support or information in their own language. Workers willing to pay exorbitant fees to work at minimum wage jobs packing the fruits and vegetables we eat in our homes. Migrant workers who deserve basic labour and human rights. Canada it seems, has failed them.

Read more here: http://www.migrantdreams.ca/synopsis/
Press Kit: http://www.migrantdreams.ca/newsandpresskit/

Q&A Period

IMRC Receives 2017 President’s Achievement Award!

Event: October 26, 2017 Rights, Essential Needs and the Politics of Protracted Refuge: A critique of refugee self-reliance in light of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework

Speaker: Dr. Anna Purkey

In 2016 the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants called upon states to conclude a new Global Compact on Refugees, and set out the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework. This Framework identified four core objectives for refugee assistance strategies including “enhancing refugee self-reliance.” Far from new, the concept of refugee self-reliance is often touted as being a key component of a sustainable refugee response strategy that ensures the well-being of refugees while addressing the concerns of both host and donor states. However, the current discourse surrounding refugee self-reliance focuses on a very narrow and predominantly economic understanding of well-being and appears to be largely detached from the legal context: that is, from human and refugee rights, and particularly from the state obligations contained in the 1951 Refugee Convention. While offering opportunities in certain situations, faced with competing pressures including the West’s desire for refugee containment, the overburdening of host states, and the lack of political will with regard to local integration, self-reliance strategies have often foundered. In response to renewed calls for refugee self-reliance, and drawing on lessons learned from previous initiatives, this project will review current understandings of self-reliance as proclaimed in international political forums and offer a critical analysis of recent discourse in light of existing state obligations under international law. In particular, this project will seek to examine how conservative understandings of self-reliance instrumentalize refugees and constitute a limiting framework. In response to these challenges, a rights-based understanding of self-reliance that draws on the capabilities approach and that specifically seeks to address the marginalization and exclusion that refugees face in states of asylum will be proposed. It is posited that adopting a holistic conception of self-reliance that is grounded in the rights and legal obligations set out in the 1951 Refugee Convention and in international human rights treaties will provide the foundation for moving beyond an essentially needs-based regime and offer opportunities for breaking down the barriers that have prevented refugee integration and that have trapped thousands of refugees in protracted situations of insecurity on the margins of society.

About the speaker:

Anna Purkey occupies the position of Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Legal Studies at St. Jerome’s University in the University of Waterloo. Anna was the 2015-2016 Gordon F. Henderson Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa and completed her Doctorate of Civil Law at McGill University in 2015. She holds a B.C.L./LL.B. from McGill University as well as a Masters in Law from University of Toronto and is a member of the Quebec Bar Association. Previously, she taught in the Department of Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University and held the position of legal counsel at the Department of Justice Canada. She is a member of the board of directors of Action Réfugiés Montréal, and has been involved with various civil society organizations including the Canadian Council for Refugees and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers. Anna was also awarded the 2016 Lisa Gilad Prize by the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration and was recently named to the Editorial Advisory Board of RefLaw an initiative of the Faculty of Law at the University of Michigan. A light lunch will be served. Please register via email to [email protected].

News: IMRC’s Dr. Janet McLaughlin in the news!

Check out the Star’s article, a documentary, and WLU highlight of her research.

  • https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/migrants/2017/10/07/this-sexually-abused-migrant-worker-is-now-safe-but-she-knows-others-arent.html
  • http://www.contextwithlornadueck.com/2017/10/11/migrant-justice/
  • https://www.wlu.ca/academics/research/researcher-profiles/faculty-researchers/janet-mclaughlin.html

News: IMRC Professor to Speak at UN

News: Article on IMRC’s Associate Director Kim Rygiel

Laurier political scientist researching what makes communities embrace or reject newcomers 

Event: October 5th, 2017 IMRC Coffee Klatch

Please join the IMRC to celebrate the open of a new school year.

The Coffee Klatch offers an opportunity to informally discuss migration issues, share what you are working on, and meet and engage other students, colleagues, and community members working in the field.

See you there!

(Room 244 – IMRC Seminar Room)

Please RSVP to [email protected]eschool.ca if possible so we can estimate numbers but feel free to join us next Thursday either way.

Event: September 26th, 2017 Diaspora’s Conceptual Disappearance: Subversion, Assimilation, and South Asian Diasporas

Speaker: Ishan AshutoshIshan Ashutosh
For at least the past decade, debates over the concept of diaspora have proceeded by prying apart its multi-stranded geographies. These developments have chastened the once celebratory invocations of diaspora as a clarion call for new formulations of space and identity in the social sciences and humanities. Diaspora’s once insurrectional cartography has been broken down to the point where diaspora’s evocative spatialities have been lost. The concept now lies bordered by the very boundaries of which it once confronted, and in its most imaginative articulations, strove to transgress. This talk aims to recapture diaspora’s conceptual promise by turning to three geographies: inter-regional spaces, convergences in the city, and homeland-diaspora space relations. As I discuss with reference to the diversity of South Asian diasporas, these three geographies have the capacity to overturn the contemporary borders that tend to dominate research on migration.

Tuesday September 26th, 2017, 2:30pm-3:30pm @ Balsillie School of International Affairs, Waterloo