The Forced Migration Research Network, UNSW (Australia) will be hosting the Academic Symposium, “Affective Shifts: Inside and Outside Nation and Body” on 21 February 2017. It is developed in partnership with the Refugee Council of Australia as a lead up to the Refugee Alternatives Conference, (

This Academic Symposium is an attempt to rethink how to analyse the spaces and socialities of our lives with a focus on research with refugees and asylum seekers. This area is fraught with numerous challenges of access, representation and power hierarchies that intersect with our respective life histories.

If becoming part of the whole is a socially constituted process of relations and negotiations with multiple others and with multi-layered social structures, the emergence of social subjects is always a collective activity, ‘external’ to the self. This calls for creative theoretical alternatives that rethink the impact of material and discursive conditions upon our embodied and embedded subjectivity. It certainly requires greater ethical courage as well as deeper theoretical efforts to imagine the affective shifts of perspective that may help us challenge the complexities of contemporary times, especially the peculiar configuration of the relationship between the state and the bodies of refugees played out in punitive policies and damaging political rhetoric.

With these dilemmas in mind this Academic Symposium poses the following questions: How can the academic community contribute to these shifts? How can academics re-imagine the research relationship towards greater equity and post-representation modes of scholarship?

A radical re-imagining of subjectivity is required in order to reframe current debates and their toxic undercurrents. This Symposium will aim to highlight how relationships that break down perceived boundaries of researcher and researched engender a different politics of affirmation with which the current tenor of public debate on refugees can be challenged.

Speakers include:

  • Zanny Begg (Art & Design, UNSW);
  • Ruth Balint (History, UNSW);
  • Rose Butler (Sociology, UNSW);
  • Jennifer Hyndman (Human Geography, York University. Canada);
  • Stephanie Hemelryk-Donald (Film, Media, Asian Studies, UNSW);
  • Belinda Liddell (Psychiatry, UNSW);
  • Jane McAdam (Law, UNSW);
  • Violeta Moreno-Lax (Law, Queen Mary University, London);
  • James Nguyen and Verónica Tello (both Art & Design, UNSW);
  • Sharon Pickering (Criminology, Monash University);
  • Suvendrini Perera (Cultural Studies, Curtin University) and Joseph Pugliese (Cultural Studies, Macquarie University);
  • Eileen Pittaway (Social Sciences, UNSW);
  • Claudia Tazreiter (Sociology, UNSW);
  • Dan Tyler (Norwegian Refugee Council); and
  • David Sanderson (Built Environment, UNSW)