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  3. HOSTILE ENVIRONMENTS:The Politics of (Un)Belonging

HOSTILE ENVIRONMENTS:The Politics of (Un)Belonging

Friday, May 25, 2018 - 12:00 to 18:00
Southwark Room, 5th Floor Blavatnik Building, TATE Modern London SE1 9TG


The Politics of (Un)Belonging

Part of the WhoAreWe? Project with TATE Exchange

Join us for an afternoon of collective imagining at the TATE Modern

Friday 25th May 2018,


This event welcomes contributions from the audience. Audience members are also invited to join panellists and speakers during the breaks for Fika (coffee and conversation)



Introduction: Hostile Environments: The politics of (Un)Belonging

Introduction and welcome Umut Erel and Victoria Canning (The Open University)


Lost in Lebanon: The human cost of hostile environments beyond Europe.
Please refer to link: 
Lost in Lebanon (Scott sisters, 2017):

Lost in Lebanon (Scott sisters, 2017) documents the experiences of 4 of the 1.5 million Syrians who find themselves in legal limbo in Lebanon. This event combines film clips with a discussion on the impacts of increasingly hostile policies beyond the borders of Europe, hosted by Gabi Kent (The Open University) in conversation with Syrian activist, Leila Sibai (SOAS)


Migration and Asylum Justice Forum: Life in Britain’s Hostile Environment Chaired by Tom Vickers

Many people make long migratory journeys to host countries in Europe, often with the expectation that previous struggles will be over. However, an increasingly hostile approach to immigration means that the process of seeking asylum can become an extended struggle. Poor housing, destitution, the threat of detention, and reductions in welfare and healthcare often cause people further harms.

This panel comprises members of the Migration and Asylum Justice Forum, who will each outline the problems arising from hostility, with discussions led by experts by experience


Addressing the politics of exclusion: Chaired by Umut Erel

The hostile environment has become front page news, but it existed long before Theresa May’s inclusion of the term during a speech in 2014. This panel draws together activists and academics to highlight how exclusionary politics has come to be the norm, and how we encourage others to engage in an alternative vision of solidarity and community building.

Speakers include: Monish Bhatia (Birkbeck University), Sandhya Sharma (Safety 4 Sisters) and Rachel Humphris (IRIS, Birmingham University).

2.15-2.30: BREAK


Panel: Gendered Harms in a Hostile Environment Chaired by Monish Bhatia

The impacts of border controls are not gender neutral. Survivors of gendered and sexual violence or persecution can face multiple further barriers to gaining support, and governmental policies can lead to further problems if and when women cannot access domestic violence refuges or support in the aftermath of sexual violence.

This panel draws out findings from multiple projects based in the UK and Europe. Speakers include: Victoria Canning (The Open University), Umut Erel (The Open University), Abi Brunswick (Project 17)

Discussant 3.30-4pm Nira Yuval Davis (Centre on Migration, Refugees and Belonging, University of East London)

3.30-3.45  BREAK


Resisting Hostility, Building Collectivity. Chaired by Victoria Canning

The hostile environment can no longer be denied or ignored. How are migrant advocacy groups building movements to support affected people and ensure the safety and wellbeing of people arriving in host countries in the future?

This panel brings together activist groups working across the UK and Northern Europe. Panellists include: Migrant Artists Mutual Aid (UK), Cihan Arikan (RFSL, LGBTQ support, Sweden), Marina Vilhelmsson (Photographer, ‘Queering Refugee Resistance’, Sweden), John Speyer (Music in Detention).

This panel also includes readings from Migrant Artists Mutual Aid’s new book ‘Strategies for Survival, Recipes for Resistance’, with the opportunity to buy a copy at the end of the session. All proceeds to go MaMa’s Legal Fund. Marina’s photography will be available to view throughout the day.


Discussion, Network Building and Planning for the Future

Convenors: Victoria Canning,, Gabi Kent,