Global Crises Cultures: Representing Refugees in the 21st Century

deadline for submissions: 
July 1, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
University of Buckingham

Global Crises Cultures: Representing Refugees in the 21st Century

eds. Dr Katie Brown (Exteter) and Dr Peter Sloane (Buckingham)


Although it is only since 2015 that the phenomena of mass forced displacement has warranted the term ‘crisis’, the pre-existing social, cultural, economic, and military conditions for that were exacerbated by the US led War on Terror which begin in 2001, after the attacks on the World Trade Centre. A 2020 report by Brown University’s Cost of War Project estimated ‘that at least 37 million people have fled their homes in the eight most violent wars the U.S. military has launched or participated in since 2001’ (Vine et al. 2020, 1). During the same period, rising instability in Central and South America (notably the Northern Triangle and Venezuela) has led to record numbers of internally and externally displaced persons, while ongoing conflicts in Africa have created over 30 million refugees. Encouraged by the sheer number of people (almost 1% of global population), Guy S. Goodwin-Gill argues that ‘the refugee problem cannot be considered apart from the field of human rights as a whole’ (2014, 43). Indeed, stripped of the legal protections afforded by a nation state, the refugee represents the limit case for human rights precisely because, as Hannah Arendt has it, a refugee is a person who has ‘lost all other qualities and specific relationships – except that they [are] still human’ (1979, 299). The surging volume of displaced persons and their treatment by possible host nations provokes equally vital questions about how human beings conceive of themselves as part of a common humanity, a sense of species as opposed to polity belongingness. Claude Levi-Strauss observedhalf a century ago that‘the notion of humanity, which includes without distinction of race or civilization all the forms of the human species, appeared very late and in a limited way’ (1976, 329). These limitations become starkly apparent in refugee fictions, poetry, film, literary journalism, and life writing of the 21st century, which capture not simply the predictable brutalities of despotic regimes, but the overt border violence and inhumanity of the democratic states which they imagine as places of sanctuary.


During the past decade, several important anthologies have addressed the issue of refugeehood in the present. Agnes Woolley’s wonderful Contemporary Asylum Narratives: Representing Refugees in the Twenty-First Century (Palgrave, 2014), Lava Asaad’s edited collection, Literature with A White Helmet: The Textual-Corporeality of Being, Becoming, and Representing Refugees (Routledge, 2019), as well as Mike Classon Frangos and Sheila Ghose’s Refugee Genres: Essays on the Culture of Flight and Refuge (Palgrave, 2022) have drawn attention to cultures of crises in the contemporary period. Working within this context while expanding and advancing the discussions instigated in these works, Cultures of Crises will bring together both established scholars and new critical voices working across the humanities to produce a truly global study of the current period of mass migrations, with essays on movements in Ukraine, Southern and Central America, through the Middle East and Sudan, to Myanmar. While the stories themselves are of key concern, the collection will be formally wide-ranging, exploring refugee’s experiences across fiction, life writing, creative non-fiction, film, poetry, and the visual arts more broadly. Of particular interest are studies that explore multiple texts, multiple themes, and multiple locations, as opposed to single text or single author studies. Given the proliferation of prose fiction studies, preference may also be given to those essays which focus on other forms. The proposed book will be divided into three parts: Prose Fiction and Poetry; Life Writing; Visual Arts.


This CFP invites abstracts of 300 words accompanied by a short biography to be submitted to by July 1st 2023. Final essays of 6-8000 words will be due by September 30th 2024.


Dr Katie Brown is Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies at the University of Exeter. She is the author of Writing and the Revolution: Venezuelan Metafiction 2004-2012 (2019), and co-editor of Crude Words: Contemporary Writing from Venezuela (2016) and Escribir afuera: Cuentos de intemperies y querencias (2021).

Dr Peter Sloane is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Buckingham, UK. He is the author of Narrative Displacement: Refugees in 21st Century Fiction and Life Writing (Liverpool University Press, 2025), Kazuo Ishiguro’s Gestural Poetics (Bloomsbury, 2021), David Foster Wallace and the Body (Routledge, 2019), and editor of ReFocus: The Films of Claire Denis (Edinburgh University Press, 2023), and (with K. Shaw) Kazuo Ishiguro: Twenty-First-Century Perspectives (Manchester University Press, 2023).