January 20, 2016
DALLAS (SMU) – Whether the topic is immigrants from Mexico or refugees from Syria, much of public opinion on these complex issues appears driven by emotion rather than fact. That’s what prompted SMU Anthropology Graduate Student Shay Cannedy and four of her peers to organize SMU’s first Refugee and Forced Migration Symposium, which will feature a renowned refugee expert and a Syrian refugee living in Dallas.
The symposium, “Whose Protection? Interrogating Displacement and the Limits of Humanitarian Welcome,” is open to the public Thursday and Friday, Jan. 28-29, in room 144 of Annette Caldwell Simmons Hall on SMU’s campus.
Delivering the symposium’s keynote address is George Mason University Professor David Haines, a renowned expert on refugee resettlement in the United States. Haines’ lecture, “Remembering refugees,” will be presented at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28 in Simmons 144, following a 30-minute reception that starts at 5 p.m.
The symposium will continue from 3-5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29, also in Simmons 144, with remarks from Syrian refugee Ghada Mukdad and presentations from SMU graduate students.
Mukdad, who was stranded in the U.S. when the outbreak of civil war prevented her from returning home in 2012, will speak about the conflict in Syria and her own legal struggles to gain official refugee status. Ghada is the founder of the Zain Foundation, a global human rights advocacy group, and an advisory board member of the Syrian Civil Coalition, which advocates for the victims of Syria’s refugee crisis.
Cannedy and fellow graduate students Katherine Fox, Sara Mosher, Ashvina Patel and Carrie Perkins will each present a lecture based on their own research into refugee issues around the world, ranging from Thailand to San Francisco
“Given current large-scale refugee movements in Europe and the Syrian refugee controversies in Texas, we thought a symposium would be a good way to open discussion on the topic and bring forth something from our own research,” Cannedy says. “A lot of countries are rethinking their migration policies and how we treat asylum seekers, so it’s on the forefront of people’s minds right now.”
Find details on the Jan. 29 portion of the symposium here. RSVPs for both days of the symposium are requested at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Forced migration movements are global,” Cannedy says. “People seeking protection don’t only arrive on the doorstep of the U.S., but are also handled by developing countries.” By examining global trends in how various nations react to migration and refugee challenges, Cannedy believes the United States can develop a strategy that works best for its own concerns and needs.
“Some people view refugees and migrants as more of a security issue than a human rights issue,” Cannedy says. “But the new Canadian administration, for example, emphasizes making a compassionate welcome rather than closing borders, so we’ll be talking about how different migration policies impact the lives of people who come into contact with them.”
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