In response to the global refugee crisis, the German Area Studies Symposium: Narratives of Displacement will debut at Hobart and William Smith, bringing the issue to the forefront with dialogue and collaborative thinking. The symposium will begin at 2 p.m. in the Seneca Room on Saturday, April 2, and is being co-organized by Visiting Assistant Professor of German Area Studies Emina Musanovic and Visiting Assistant Professor of German Area Studies Ashwin Manthripragada.
The symposium’s keynote address will be given by Olivia Landry, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh, who will reflect on the German concept of “Willkommenskultur,” a word which translates to “a culture of welcoming.” The word has been revived in light of the current refugee crisis, highlighting the German response to displaced populations.
German people, according to Musanovic, have rallied to support incoming refugees with housing, translation services, transportation and employment. At the same time, far right-wing movements such as PEGIDA are emerging while political parties that, like the AfD, run anti-immigration platforms, are rapidly gaining supporters, Musanovic says; violent attacks on refugees and refugee housing have also sharply increased.
Musanovic envisions the symposium as a venue for critical dialogue in response to the concerns of displaced peoples both in the German-speaking and global contexts.
“I hope that our keynote address and the symposium as a whole will inspire thinking and conversations about how our own communities are responding to the ongoing refugee crisis and about the reception of refugees in our own communities,” she says.
Following the keynote and a question-and-answer session, students taking the course, GERE 203 “Narratives of Displacement,” will showcase their related research during a poster session. They will be joined by a group of students and faculty from Colgate University. Light refreshments will be served during this session.
“This is an opportunity to have a public, informed discussion about this topic,” says Musanovic. “I hope that looking at a different national context inspires us to critically confront the contemporary public debates about immigration and refugees in the U.S.”
The symposium is sponsored by the Julius G. Blocker ’53 Endowed Fund, the NY6 Liberal Arts Consortium, and the HWS Human Rights and Genocide Symposium.