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Stillness: Thinking through critical migration studies and challenging citizenship

Tuesday 1 November 2016, 4.00PM to 5:30pm

Speaker(s): Dr Heather L. Johnson, Queen's University, Belfast

Seminar synopsis

In refugee camps, an inability to meet the basic needs of refugees is mirrored by active policies of confinement and refusal at the borders of Europe.  Emergency implies the need for urgent response, and above all for control, and these responses are shaped within the already dominant and inadequate frameworks of the state.  However, there is an overwhelming focus on mobility as the fount of this contestation.  In this paper, I suggest that this focus has implications that are troubling, and which neglect presence and stillness in belonging.  We run the risk of rendering migrants as temporary and normalizing separation.  Reflecting on field research in the ‘hotspot’ of Kos, I argue that rethinking political subjectivities, and countering the exclusionary frameworks that are blocking humane responses to migration requires that we think outside of citizenship.  Further, I argue that considering presence and stillness offers us tools to begin such a venture.

Dr Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson is a Senior Lecturer in International Studies in the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy, and Politics at Queen’s University Belfast.  Her research focuses on irregular migration and asylum seekers, border security, and the practices of resistance, solidarity and protest of non-citizens.  She also writes about visual representations of refugees, particularly through a gender studies lens.  Her book,Borders, Asylum and Global Non-Citizenship: The Other Side of the Fence, was published in 2014 with Cambridge University Press and was awarded the honorary mention award in the Ethnicity, Nationalism and Migration Section at the International Studies Association (2016).  Her work has also appeared in journals such as International Political SociologySecurity Dialogue, and Third World Quarterly.  Heather is currently working on a project about irregular migration in the maritime space, funded through the ESRC Future Research Leaders scheme.

Admission: is by free ticket only. Please book your ticket at

Location: ARC/014 Auditorium, Alcuin Research Resource Centre, University of York, YO10 5DD