Refugee Tales - Lange Nacht der Forschung


From Friday 20th to Saturday 21st May, the Department of English and American Studies - in collaboration with the research platform SOLE and the research project, “Poetry off the Page” - had the pleasure of hosting the Refugee Tales Interdisciplinary Workshop, with a special keynote lecture by esteemed poet, Patience Agbabi.

A truly interdisciplinary event, Friday’s workshop kicked off with a wide-ranging dialogue between Anna Pincus (Director of the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group, UK), David Herd (University of Kent at Canterbury), Sylvia Mieszkowski (University of Vienna), and Sandra Mayer (Austrian Academy of Sciences). From there, participants learned about various volunteer activities that ensure support for detainees, and which also entail organizing at higher political levels to abolish indefinite detention and establish better living conditions for refugees and asylum-seekers. Furthermore, Herd and Pincus illustrated how Refugee Tales, the four-volume project, took shape thanks to the collaborative, trust-building efforts among poets, writers, refugees, volunteers, and organizers. What truly animates these efforts are refugees’ wishes to have their stories told to a wider audience, considering their conditions and experiences have largely gone ignored. Workshop participants then enjoyed two-day’s worth of lectures and discussions, from fields ranging between sociology, psychology, and political science, to literary studies, media studies, and the study of celebrity culture. The highpoint was a compelling keynote lecture from British performance poet, Patience Agbabi, who provided a “story of a story”, sharing the behind-the-scenes genesis of her contribution to the Refugee Tales volume. Speakers and participants alike joined in an ongoing discussion about life-writing and the power of narrative, story-telling, and language in helping advocate and agitate for better conditions among detained refugees.


Information on the Refugee Tales project can be found here.


Author: Kevin Potter

Photo: Harald Freidl

Patience Agbabi; Photo: Harald Freidl