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School of Geography

A Conference at the University of Leeds, UK, Friday 29 January 2010

This conference will examine the journeys of forced migrants. It will explore these journeys through the lenses of justice and human rights. A key part of the conference will be to debate better solutions to the problems of injustice and human rights denial that so often taint the journeys of forced migrants. The conference aims to trace forced journeys from insecurity and fear to safety and justice. It will examine journeys without justice or safety and it will debate solutions to the problems of forced migration. It will explore the blurred boundaries between those migrants who are forced to work in conditions akin to slavery and those who migrate because of persecution, have their asylum claims denied, and end up in utterly exploitative and/or illegal working conditions. This conference aims to support the struggle for all migrants’ human rights. Its focus is mainly on the UK, but contributions from elsewhere are welcome.

The conference will:

  • Examine the forces causing people to involuntarily leave their homes
  • Explore the often traumatic and chaotic routes forced migrants take in their journeys
  • Investigate forced migrants’ arrival experiences
  • Consider how forced migrants are treated and supported in the UK
  • Evaluate how well forced migrants are integrated
  • Delve into what, why and how forced migrants return to their home country
  • Focus on practical solutions and their policy implications

The day will include a mixture of key speakers, workshops, artwork, creative displays and discussion opportunities.
The focus will be on ‘how things could be’ and each workshop will consider recommendations for change.

Keynote Speakers:

Eleonore Kofman (Professor of Gender, Migration and Citizenship, Middlesex University

Hannah Lewis (author of 'Destitution in Leeds: the Experiences of People Seeking Asylum and Supporting Agencies')

The conference will culminate in a 'QUESTION TIME’ panel (free to attend) chaired by broadcaster Jenni Murray, with well-known figures such as Eleonore Kofman (Professor of Gender, Migration and Citizenship, Middlesex University), Mike Kaye (Still Human Still Here coalition & Amnesty), Irena Bauman (Architect and co-founder of Bauman-Lyons, whose family was forced to leave Poland in the 1960s), and Miss Amna Idris (a Refugee from Eritrea living in Leeds).

We invite papers and other types of contributions (e.g. poetry, photography, film, art) which reflect on the below key issues.Please send your ideas (abstracts of no more than 250 words) to Louise Waite by October 30th 2009.

  • Causes of forced migration (whether through persecution or other forms of coercion) such as economic crisis, environmental pressure, discrimination (due to e.g. gender, race, sexuality), war and global politics
  • Experiences of seeking asylum.
  • Policies and procedures such as border control, the asylum system, denial, destitution, detention and deportation
  • Issues of justice such as human rights and the rights of the child
  • Longer term issues such as settlement, integration and citizenship
  • Responses in civil society such as political mobilisation, activism and racialised antagonism

We hope that the conference will be of interest to the following: people with personal experience of forced migration; people who have settled, achieved citizenship and feel integrated or excluded; people working in this sector; volunteers; political activists; academics working in this field.

For conference registration

(£40 full cost, £20 reduced cost, + limited bursaries): please see registration form. Closing date for registration is 01 December 2009.

Conference Venue

The conference will be held at Bodington Hall, University of Leeds. Directions to Boddington can be found here. Suggested overnight accomodation for the conference can be found here.

Conference Timings

A more detailed programme of the day’s events will be posted on this website closer to the conference date, but the timings for the day will be:

  • 9am - registration opens
  • 9.30am  - conference begins
  • 5pm – conference closes
  • 6 - 7.30pm – public Question-Time event

Please note that we are unable to estimate the number of parking spaces available for the event, as parking is prioritised on a first arrival basis.