Image by Brandi Redd

Highlights & Abstracts

Highlights & Abstracts for the Free Postgraduate+ Online Workshop
14 September 2022

War, Economic Strife and the Long-Lasting Intersectional Effects on Refugees, Minorities, Disabled People and the Global Environment

 

Session 1:

Ana Rengel-Goncalves, Sam Blanch & Aloka Wanigasuriya (University of Newcastle, Australia)

The Forgotten Refugees: Intersectional Insights for Australia’s Refugee Program

 

As Western states respond to refugees emerging out of current conflicts, disability is often forgotten as a vector of vulnerability. Australia is listed amongst the top countries for refugee resettlement. In Australia, refugee status is determined, processed and accepted through Australian domestic law and may involve a determination by the United Nations Refugee Agency. Under the umbrella of its humanitarian and refugee program, Australia expressly recognises different categories of vulnerability vis-a-vis persecution. Within these, special focus has been attributed to gender, religion and a few others.  In this context of broad ministerial discretion and a deliberately secretive policy apparatus, the recognition of vulnerabilities emerging as a result of the different dimensions of personhood remain virtually unexplored.

In particular, disability and its interaction with the other categories of identity is under-explored in policy and in scholarship. This constrains our understanding of persecution, and limits decision-makers’ ability to prioritise the most vulnerable. In this article, we critique analyses of harm that do not consider other dimensions of personhood, such as disability. We further argue disability must be understood intersectionally, as vulnerabilities emerging out of disability converge with other more legible forms of persecution. This research applies a deductive intersectional approach to Australian refugee policy. This research will contribute to the academic literature by critiquing Australia’s narrow approach to the categorisation and assessment of harm and vulnerability. It has the potential to contribute to other refugee intake jurisdictions that seek to adopt inclusive approaches to vulnerability and harm.  

 

Kirstie Broadfield (Cairns Institute, Australia)

A State of Siege: The Enemy Within 

By exercising sovereignty through disciplinary, biopolitical and necropolitical power, settler-colonial governance gained total dominance over the invaded territory of what became known as Australia.  What followed this invasion is what Mbembe calls a ‘state of siege’ in which there is a method of killing that does not separate the external enemy from the internal enemy.  Australia was in a state of siege from the outset of settler-colonial control with Indigenous Australians becoming the internal enemy as seen by the open warfare in the early contact period.  This paper argues that Australia is still in a state of siege with Indigenous Australians still viewed as the ‘enemy within’.  It does so by demonstrating the ongoing oppression of Indigenous Australians through forms of violence that not only target Indigenous Australians, but that are systemic in nature, hidden, or embedded within policies and practices of the criminal justice system.  Further, it highlights how the austerity faced by many Indigenous Australians exacerbates this already volatile situation. 

 

This paper emanates from the results of a PhD project that used the theory of necropolitics because the theory is based on the logic of destruction, particularly through mass genocide or by confining whole populations to conditions in which they face inescapable violence, living in constant fear of a violent death.  The outcomes from this research suggest that Indigenous Australian are being ‘necropolitically targeted’, ‘zombified’ and transmogrified into homo sacer by the criminal justice system.  Furthermore, the research has unveiled how the unequal relations of power between Indigenous Australians and the criminal justice system leads to a sense of Deific Authority, and as a result of this, how criminal justice officers become more prone to intentionally, negligently and/or recklessly inflicting violence on Indigenous Australians.   

Alexandra Blok (Griffith University, Australia)

Migrant music as a practice of citizenship for non-Western migrants in regional areas:
addressing cultural and social inequalities in regional Australia

Even though migrant cultural presence can be seen as gradually establishing in  urban areas, infrastructures and spaces of multicultural presence in regional areas are yet to be created and recognised. 'Migrant music' (or music of migrant settlers of non-Western origin) exists on the outskirts of regional music scenes in Australia. Small and scattered regional migrant communities, a lack of emphasis on migrant cultural expressions in the Australian migration and arts policies make them nearly invisible in the regional art landscape. Particularly the issue of cultural belonging is pertinent for migrants of refugee backgrounds in their attempt to recreate a new ‘home’ in the receiving country. Equally, music is utilised by migrant youth and their expressions of hybrid cultural identities in regional settings, characterised by the lack of developed infrastructures and the predominant history of ‘white’ Anglo-Celtic settlement.  Migrants of various cultural backgrounds, regardless of their age, education or gender utilise music as a practice of citizenship, in which they claim and perform their rights to belong.

The presentation is based on three-year research undertaken in New South Wales and Queensland, Australia. Four regional towns – Wagga Wagga and Coffs Harbour in NSW and Toowoomba and Cairns in QLD were places of examination of migrant music practices in the regional context. Research project predominantly canvassed  music experiences of migrants from refugee backgrounds (forced migrants from African countries of Congo, Zimbabwe, Liberia, and South Sudan; Middle Eastern countries of Iraq and Syria; South-East Asian countries of Myanmar and Bhutan).

Migrant music practices unequivocally reflect the issues of cultural and social exclusion through migrant music's perceptions and presence within regional music scenes. Created music networks or migrants' efforts to penetrate various existing music 'ecosystems' demonstrate how regional migrants utilise music to negotiate their cultural capital and social positions within multiple groups. Grass-roots music practices become spaces of migrant status’ ‘bargain' in a new home country, through which migrants contribute new meanings of regional place and identity. Ultimately, the presentation argues that migrant music participates in creating regional change through expanding regional multicultural spaces and rethinking them as related to other global cultural geographies and identities. However, arts, migration and regional development policies should be mobilised to facilitate this change and foster regional migration.

Neda Mohamadi (Art Curator, England/Iran) 

People on the Move: Representing Refugees in Art Documentaries

This presentation evaluates the role of arts in representing the truth in the movement of people. It focuses on art documentaries in response to the second enormous wave of migration that happened in 2014 and 2015, as a result of the crisis in North Africa and the South-West of Asia, especially Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. There is no doubt that migration and looking for a new living place are neither a new matter nor can it be bounded to a specific region. This study explores how displacements and the movement of people in different contexts are represented in art documentaries. The main aim of this talk is to re-assess the role of art and consider whether its representations can raise greater awareness of the political and social changes needed to support migrants.

 

The provided examples and explanations revolve around the social and political concept of migration in relation to the art domain. It examines how and why certain features have been presented in art documentaries about state seeking and analysed the authenticity of representation and different approaches to dealing with reality and the truth of events.


Starting from the grounded theories each case study leads to investigations for broader theories of relevance. The considered cases in this work are, Human Flow by Ai Weiwei, Another News Story by Orban Wallace, Shadow Lives by Jon Lowenstein and are considered through the way in which they share common aspects in their representation of the lives of undocumented migrants. In addition to the existing material, two interviews were conducted with two of the previously mentioned artists, about their opinions, attitudes and approaches to state-seeking subject in their documentaries.

Session 2:

Lucia Guerrero Riviere (University of Exeter, England/Columbia)

 

Debilitation, disablement, and justice: Perspectives on ocular injuries inflicted by ‘non-lethal’ weapons

 

This presentation emerges from my doctoral research, which addresses the recent spate of ocular injuries inflicted by police upon protesters during the Colombian National Strike of 2021. At least 103 instances of these injuries were reported in Colombia between April and October 2021, although there is likely a sub-register of cases due to the stigmatisation of protest and fears of retaliation against victims for reporting (Amnesty International, PAIIS & Temblores NGO, 2021). Far from a novel or unique practice, ocular mutilation by “non-lethal” weapons has been documented since 1990 in other contexts, including Kashmir, Hong Kong, Palestine, and Chile, which suggests a potential systematicity in this form of brutality across contexts and regions (Haar et al, 2017). The project aims to contribute to recent scholarship in critical disability studies concerned with demanding accountability for bodily
harm that results in impairments, and imagining futures of disability justice (Meekosha, 2011;
Sins Invalid, 2019; Soldatic, 2013; Puar, 2017).


During this talk, I discuss three key lines of inquiry around the phenomenon of ocular injury that I have encountered thus far in my project and that I hope might contribute to enacting justice for survivors. First, a transnational perspective is needed to shed light on and decry the prevalence of shooting at eyes: ocular injuries are inflicted as part of widely different strategies of debilitation, either by a settler colonial power or state actors, which allows for
connections to be traced between the repertoires of violence deployed around the world. Conversely, attention must also be paid to the local and regional specificities of this tactic and how they are shaped by political contexts, such as the transition away from decades of armed conflict that Colombia currently faces. Second, I use the concepts of “debilitation” (Puar, 2017), “slow death” (Berlant, 2007), and “slow violence” (Nixon, 2011) to discuss the forms of durational harm faced by victims of non-lethal weapons, which range from barriers to employment and education opportunities to threats and ongoing violence related to their disability as a visible marker of their participation in protests.

 

This perspective brings into focus both the direct violence that takes place when a projectile strikes the eye of a demonstrator, as well as drawn-out forms of debilitation, both material and discursive, that long pre-date and follow the moment of impact, and whose effects reach beyond individual bodies (Clark, 2019; Sharma, 2021). Third, I engage with the tensions that arise between disability as a site of pride, political identification, and state recognition, on the one hand, and the weaponisation of disability to quell social unrest (in this case, the visual impairments that may be caused by ocular trauma), on the other (Ben-Moshe, 2018; Erevelles, 2011; Puar, 2017). This concomitance of capacitating and debilitating narratives about disability thus poses an urgent question for disability politics and its stakes in confronting forms of injustice that are not contained in a single space or temporality, but rather have durational and transnational effects.

Lena Obermaier (University of Exeter, England)

 The Disablement and Debilitation of Palestine 

 

This presentation focuses on the disablement and debilitation of Palestine as part of Israel’s settler colonial “logic of elimination”. As Patrick Wolfe (Wolfe, 1999) and Lorenzo Veracini (2015) outlined, settler colonial projects are inevitably eliminatory in nature; with the access to land as the ultimate objective, the native becomes superfluous and needs to be wiped out. Yet, documentation of the deliberate injuring and maiming of Palestinians as a means to this end more often than not escapes the literature as stories of killings and death take centre stage. We expect the injured to survive, heal, and continue to live. Between making people die and letting them live - although in a state of (permanent) injury - injuring is seen as the lesser of two evils, which is, as Eyal Weizman (2017) reminds us, still evil. At the same time, rehabilitation is forever postponed in a location where the natives’ infrastructure is debilitated through frequent military destruction and limited access to resources. 

This presentation is built on my doctoral thesis. The thesis traces Israel’s history of systematic and deliberate maiming of the Palestinian population and argues that this history is not an accidental conglomeration of unrelated events, but part of the structure of settler colonialism. Among others, it analyses the targeting of eyes during the First Intifada (1987-1993), Israel’s “shoot to maim” doctrine during the Great March of Return 2018-2020, and the difference in medical care between the Jewish Israeli and Palestinian population during the Covid-19 pandemic, a difference that has been referred to as “medical apartheid” (see Harriet Washington’s “Medical Apartheid” (2018)). Building on the work of critical disability studies scholars such as Helen Meekosha, Karen Soldatic, and Jasbir Puar, I aim to provide a comprehensive account of the use of strategic impairment of Palestine’s native population as a method to enforce docility, oppress, and debilitate with the eventual goal to replace and eliminate. I hope that this will serve as a call and academic framework to other scholars of settler colonialism who might want to revisit histories of settler colonial projects and see them through the lens of maiming. It is vital to understand that injuries ought not to be regarded as mere by-products of war in the context of collateral damage or even as a more ‘humanitarian’ alternative to killing. 

Istiaque Mahmud Dowllah (Univeraity of Glasgow, Scotland)

 Effectiveness of Psychosocial Interventions for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Refugees and Asylum Seekers Resettled in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

 

Refugees and forcibly displaced persons (FDPs) have been subjected to various forms of trauma throughout their lives, which leads to poor physical and mental health. Refugees and asylum seekers are more prone to PTSD than the general population due to their previous and current experiences, such as torture, human rights violation, a lack of essentials, painful loss, and separation from others. Human rights breaches such as forcible movement of refugees from camps, police harassment, arbitrary arrest, and detention without trial are all major issues that refugees confront in low- and middle-income countries. It is challenging to implement psychosocial therapies in LMICs due to limited resources, a lack of mental health specialists, and insufficient research. This systematic review aims to determine which psychosocial interventions effectively treat PTSD among refugees and asylum seekers in low-and middle-income countries (LMIC).

In conclusion, refugees and FDPs who endure a difficult life are susceptible to various mental health concerns, such as PTSD. This study aimed to examine the efficacy of psychosocial interventions in this demographic resettled in LMICs and provide an updated knowledge.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) had the greatest effect size among psychosocial therapies for this demographic.  However, the number of studies is small, and their methodological rigour is limited, thus future study should concentrate on performing more rigorous trials.

Deanna Parvin Yadollahi (Justice Dreaming, USA)

Auto-ethnography of Ableism, Intersectional Disablism, Racism, Colonialism, Imperialism and Patriarchy

In this presentation, I will introduce myself and my relationship to Disability Justice (Lamm, 2015; Berne et al., 2018; Sins Invalid, 2020). Then I will discuss my auto-ethnographic research methods and findings and discuss related literature. Then I will consider the themes of ableism, intersectional disablism, racism, colonialism, imperialism, and patriarchy and how they relate to Disability Justice, critical disability studies in education, and radical love. I will end with brief recommendations.

For my research, I used the method of auto-ethnography. Using auto-ethnography for disability studies research can be particularly constructive and accessible (Polczyk, 2012; Whitinui, 2013; LeFrançois, 2013a; Holman Jones, 2016; Adams, 2017). I designed my auto-ethnographic research project to focus on my personal experiences in school settings and school-related family experiences. I collected qualitative data including writing reflections about and memories of my time in K-12 school settings, as well as looking over artefacts from my time in school. I used Disability Justice and critical disability studies in education to understand and analyse my data. Using my experiences as data to analyze, I performed qualitative data analysis and coded my auto-ethnographic data. I found that my experiences related to the following themes: ableism, intersectional disablism, colonialism, imperialism, islamophobia and patriarchy as related to Disability Justice, critical disability studies in education, and radical love.