Conference: Refugees' Diasporic Memories and the Politics of Democratisation

Past Event

18 February 2011, 11:00am - 6:00pm

Wolfson College
Linton Road<br /> Oxford<br /> OX2 6UD

This conference is being convened by the International Migration Institute and the Refugees Studies Centre (both based in the Oxford Department of International Development). It is free to attend and coffee, tea and a light lunch will be provided. If you would like to attend the conference please email by 17 January 2011. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. (NB: Registration is compulsory and places are limited.)

While there has been extensive research on democratic transition and post-conflict reconstruction in Southern and Eastern Europe, little is known about the roles played by diasporas in general and by refugees’ diasporic memories in particular. However, many states in Africa, Latin America and even Europe are engaged in attempts to reassess their recent histories in order to elaborate new nation-building narratives. In this context, refugee diasporas have often retained a memory of conflicts which has sometimes been erased (or voluntarily forgotten) in the country of origin.

The conference will address the input of refugee organisations and individuals into political processes in their countries of origin.

The one-day event will, in particular, explore:

1. The role of refugee organisations in re-processing individual memories into an alternative narrative of national history.

2. The stance of states of origin – whether they are willing or unwilling to re-incorporate this expatriate memory in the context of democratic transition.

Memorial transfers can take many forms, from public testimonies and reconciliation committees organised by states of origin, to clandestine encounters between activists and expatriates. Three questions will serve as a common thread for the different interventions:

1. How are individual memories processed in an exilic context to produce a collective diasporic memory?

2. How are diasporic memories transferred to the origin country (or, conversely, how do states endeavour to prevent re-importation of these memories)?

3. How does this process impact on public opinion, civil society and democratisation in both the country of origin and the hosting country?