This workshop convenes scholars and contributors around a planned special issue on “Between Refuge and Refuse: New Mediums/Methods for Theorizing Refuge(e) Environments” for Amerasia Journal, co-edited by Heidi Amin-Hong, Evyn Lê Espiritu Gandhi (UCLA), and Emily Hue (UC Riverside). Bringing together critical refugee studies, Indigenous studies, media studies, and the environmental humanities, the workshop will culminate in a special issue that probes multiple resonances of refuge – humanitarian refuge for displaced refugees, wildlife refuge for endangered animals – as well as their entanglements and refusals.

While refuge and refugees have been configured through militarized logics of rescue and made knowable through dominant media technologies, this workshop articulates a more expansive definition of refuge that centers questions of solidarity and self-determination. Engaging interdisciplinary scholarship in the humanities and social sciences, the workshop will specifically consider media studies approaches and media objects that enable critical understandings of how refugee environments are produced under duress. We turn to media and cultural production as crucial sites of refuge that open up more capacious lines of inquiry and communal healing.

This two-day virtual workshop will convene 7-9 scholars to discuss questions that gauge how methods and mediums of refusal emerge in studies of refuge(e) environments. Where and when do humanistic and social scientific approaches converge and diverge when it comes to the question of refuse and refusal? How do strategies of refusal in activism and the arts inform the methods and mediums by which they are documented and proliferated? For whom and by whom do methods of refusal seek accountability and reciprocity? How do filmmakers, writers, and media artists rely on particular mediums to adapt strategies of refusal? In addition to their draft article, participants have the option to bring a short written precis that explores how method and medium interact in their work. Together, contributors will workshop manuscripts in progress that engage environmental art, media, and narratives to repurpose objects and lifeforms that have been deemed disposable.”

Image credit: Tuan Andrew Nguyen, The Island, 2017, used with permission.