NEMLA 2023 Panel:Ukraine and Hannah Arendt: Framing the Discourse of Refugees, Race, Religion and Culture
This panel seeks to examine the discourse of the refugee crisis originating from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 in connection with other recent refugee crises. While international news coverage and the humanitarian response has been extraordinary during the events of the war, this same response throws into stark relief Western nations’ lack of action and support for the refugees of Syria, Central America and Palestine. Following Hannah Arendt and Edward Said’s example in The Origins of Totalitarianism and Reflections on Exile, panelists would be encouraged to submit papers that explore the discursive connections and departures that define human life lived at the limits of the nation state both in the form of readings of literature such as Exit West and Lost Children Archive and from a theoretical standpoint. Central to this panel’s interest is a desire to draw scholarly attention to the role that culture, religion and race play in the crafting of a sympathetic view of the refugee as has occurred in Ukraine. As Arendt and Said’s work intimates this view of the refugee is anomaly in history and the discourse that successfully resists power’s usual rhetoric of the refugee as “the enemy of the people” should be carefully studied. This exploration is of crucial scholarly importance, for certainly even after the crisis in Ukraine comes to an end, there will be another refugee crisis and another in the 21st Century and it is imperative to develop discourse to humanize every stateless people, in every circumstance from every origin, not just white, Christian European refugees.