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Upcoming Symposiums

Art & Refugees Symposium

April 6th, 2017
Global & International Studies Building, Indiana University Bloomington

Join us for a day of performances, academic discussion panels, and a powerful photography exhibit.

There are more than 65 million refugees and internally displaced people in the world. The impact of this upsurge of refugees, the most the world has ever known, has only begun to be fully felt. Education, national security, humanitarian aid, social services, policies, economics, children, families and identities are being impacted in communities all over the world. This is a true global issue that may have roots in places such as Syria or Somalia but is quickly transcending the boundaries of displacement camps, receiving countries, and war-torn nations. Further, like all major global challenges, there is not one way to tackle this issue; it calls for collaborations and conversations that integrate multiple perspectives, peoples, and nations. For a university, which also has a responsibility to act as well as to educate students and communities, the response requires conversations across disciplines and across the social sciences and the humanities.
This day-long symposium will combine scholarship, performance, practice, and an art installation and will investigate the complex intersection of art and refugees. The symposium views art as a social and political agent and as an illustration of human struggles and accomplishments. Symposium participants will explore the refugee situation alongside an array of artistic expressions, as well as the artists, sociopolitical contexts, analytic frameworks, and global trends from which art about refugees is created and defined. And, in so doing, participants will explore the refugee experience through multiple lenses, from the political and cultural, to the aesthetic, economic, intimate, and historic. As the Bloomington community is also dealing with its debated refugee situation (at one point, Syrian refugees were going to be allowed to settle in Bloomington this Spring), and with the recent presidential executive order, this topic is an extremely timely one and participants will also be asked to consider this issue from a U.S. local perspective. The symposium’s overall goal is to use art as an entry point to more meaningfully and intimately understand the experience of refugees.

Symposium Schedule and Participants

8:30 AM, Coffee and Registration*

9:00 AM, Introductions*

9:15 AM-10:30 AM, Panel 1: Perspectives on the Global Refugee Regime*

  • Maurizio Albahari, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Notre Dame
  • Carmen Medina, Associate Professor of Literacy, Culture, and Language Education, IU
  • Oliver Shao, PhD Candidate in Ethnomusicology & Folklore, IU
  • Moderator: Judah Cohen, Associate Professor of Musicology and Jewish Studies, IU

10:45-12:15 AM, Panel 2: Refugees, Art, and Rethinking Geographies*

12:30-1:30 PM, Lunch with panelists in GISB 3067

1:45-3:15 PM, Panel 3: Displacement, Stories, and Communities*

  • Assefa Dibaba, Ph.D. Researcher in Folklore, IU
  • Elizabeth Dunn, Associate Professor of Geography and International Studies, IU
  • Yassmin Fashir, IU Student, Political refugee from Sudan
  • Moderator: Hilary Kahn, Assistant Dean at the School of Global & International Studies, IU

3:30 PM, Multi-media performance: Finding Home - Shine the Light
In this live narrative, creators and collaborators of the musical Moses Man: Finding Home will make connections between a true story of post-Holocaust migration and the contemporary plights of millions of displaced people.

  • Deborah Haber, Executive Artistic Director at DEEP Arts and Creator & Writer of Moses Man: Finding Home, Rochester, New York
  • David Marshall, Documentary director, Blue Sky Project, New York
  • Charlotte Schmitz, Professional photographer, Germany

04.05.2017 - weather updated info!

5:00 PM
First Thursdays Festival outside the main entrance of the Art Museum:  In this riveting exhibit, professional photographer Charlotte Schmitz will be presenting “Take me to Jermany,” a series of polaroid images taken by Schmitz of refugees who took the dangerous journey to Europe searching for a new home.  The subjects of the photos wrote messages on the photographs, becoming co-creators of the art and co-authors of the refugee narrative; a young refugee in Greece wrote, “I see only Humans, not Humanity.” 

5:00 PM Rahim Alhaj, virtuouso oud musician and Iraqi-born refugee, will give an acoustic performance at the Eskenazi Museum of Art second floor Gallery of the Art of Asia and the Ancient Western World.

*Panels and multi-media performance will take place in the Global & International Studies Building room 1060.  1060 is on the first floor of the east wing of the building.


  • College Arts & Humanities Institute
  • Center for the Study of Global Change
  • Center for the Study of the Middle East
  • DEEP Arts
  • Robert A. and Sandra S. Borns Jewish Studies Program
  • Inner Asia & Uralic National Resource Center
  • Institute for European Studies
  • Russian & East European Institute
  • African Studies Program
  • Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies

Related Events

April 5 | 12:00 – 1:00pm | GISB 3067
“Take me to Jermany” - a personal perspective on the refugee crisis
Charlotte Schmitz, Professional Photographer

April 5 | 5:30 - 7:00pm | GISB 1122
"Chimurenga Intersections: Epistemologies of Self-Liberation through African Music Scholarship and Performance”
Professor Mhoze Chikowero, History, University of California Santa Barbara and Thomas Mapfumo

April 6 | 6:30pm | Showalter Arts Plaza
Thomas Mapfumo and The Blacks Unlimited concert
Part of the First Thursdays Festival

April 7-9 | various times | IU Cinema
InLight Film Festival
Human rights documentary films with ILFF Spotlights on the Refugee Crisis


Indiana University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution. If you have a disability and need assistance, special arrangements can be made to accommodate most needs. Center for the Study of Global Change
355 N. Jordan Ave., Bloomington, IN 47405-1105
Phone: (812) 856-5523    Fax: (812) 855-6660    E-mail: global@iu.edu
This page was last modified on: 04/5/17
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