The University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee (UWM) will host a Critical Refugee Studies Conference Nov. 3-4 at the UWM Union, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd.
Blending academic scholarship with discussion of contemporary human rights issues, this conference focuses on the specific issues relevant to people displaced by war, economic crises, political upheavals, natural disasters and ethnic tensions.
International scholars will present research on refugee issues in different historical and geographic contexts. Topics will include the essential, often politically charged, differences between migrants and refugees; how refugees use memory in conjunction with their everyday experiences to construct notions of identity, nation and home; and how global political, economic and cultural contexts interact with an increasingly mass-mediated world to influence how refugees are understood by the world at large.
The conference includes an exhibit, “Here, There and Elsewhere,” at Plymouth Church, 2717 E. Hampshire St. Through documentary photos and the words of the refugees themselves, John Ruebartsch and Sally Kuzma have created intimate family portraits that provide a window into the daily lives of some of the newest – and least familiar – Americans.
Ghita Schwartz will read from her book, “Displaced Persons,” at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, 1360 N. Prospect Ave. The book was a finalist for the Foundation for Jewish Culture’s Goldberg Prize for Outstanding Fiction. Schwartz was raised in a family of postwar Jewish refugees, and currently works for New York Legal Aid as a civil rights litigator specializing in immigrants’ rights.
Matsuo Ikuhara of the International Medical Corps will present the keynote speech on how the recent disasters in Haiti and Japan provide lessons for the preparedness of the United States. Ikuhara was part of an emergency response team for both disasters.
The photo exhibit, book reading and keynote are all free and open to the public. Registration is required for other conference events.
The symposium is cosponsored by UWM’s programs in Comparative Ethnic Studies and Hmong Diaspora Studies. Event details and registration information are available at: http://www4.uwm.edu/letsci/conferences/norefugee2011/index.cfm