Fall 2020: (Virtual) Refugee Crisis Workshop for Community-College Educators

The Growing Crisis of Refugees and Statelessness: A Practical, Pedagogical Workshop for Community-College Educators

We are excited to announce a new professional development workshop for community college educators coming this fall!

In this workshop, experts on refugees and statelessness across the globe — Latin America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and the United States — will discuss the causes and effects of rising tides of involuntary migration. Participants will be given opportunities to meet and work with colleagues in their disciplines and programs to develop new courses on refugees and statelessness, and they will learn new content to integrate in the courses they currently teach.

In a series of four sessions, the workshop will provide community college educators with ideas and information useful to teaching undergraduates about migration and both past and impending global transformations. It will explore two of the most pressing issues of our time—refugees and statelessness—through presentations by four experts on crises, causes and solutions. It will also provide opportunities to speak directly with each speaker in Q&A sessions. The events will conclude with small-group discussions among participants that focus on incorporating insights gained from the workshop into community college courses.

Individuals who participate in all four of the online seminars will receive a professional development digital badge from Madison College.

In addition, the first 20 registrants will receive a FREE copy of “A is for Asylum Seeker: Words for People on the Move/A de Asilo: Palabras Para Personas en Movimiento” by Rachel Ida Buff, our keynote speaker scheduled for October 7th!

OCTOBER 7, 4:00-6:00 P.M.

Introduction to the workshop on October 7th by Lesley Bartlett, Professor of Educational Policy Studies, author of Refugees, Immigrants, and Education in the Global South: Lives in Motion, and winner of the Jackie Kirk National Book Award.

Keynote Address: “Thinking Like a Caravan: People on the Move in Crisis”

Presented by Rachel Ida Buff, Professor of History, UW-Milwaukee and author of Against the Deportation Terror: Organizing for Immigrant Rights in the Twentieth Century and A is for Asylum Seeker: Words for People on the Move / A de asilo: palabras para personas en movimiento

About the presentation: In this talk, Professor Rachel Ida Buff will deliver a brief reading and then talk about her new book A is for Asylum Seeker: Words for People on the Move / A de Asilo: Palabras para Personas en MovimientoAs millions are forced to leave their nations of origin as a result of political, economic, and environmental peril, rising racism and xenophobia have led to increasingly harsh policies. A mass-mediated political circus obscures both histories of migration and longstanding definitions of words for people on the move, fomenting widespread linguistic confusion. Under this circus tent, there is no regard for history, legal advocacy, or jurisprudence. Yet in a world where the differences between “undocumented migrant” and “asylum seeker” can mean life or death, words have weighty consequences. This talk will reframe key words that describe people on the move and offer a new perspective on the fascinating stories, challenges and aspirations of migrants in the world, with particular focus on the US.

OCTOBER 14, 4:00-6:00 P.M.

A Crisis of Migration Governance: Europe’s Failed Cooperation on Refugee Protection

Presented by Anna Oltman, Lecturer in Human Rights, Department of Political Science at University College London

About the presentation: Many Americans view Europe, with its common currency, accessible air and train travel, and “open” internal borders, as a continent of free movement. But for asylum seekers and other migrants seeking safety, Europe is a fortress built to keep people out. Efforts at pushing back migrant boats crossing the Mediterranean Sea, poorly resourced detention centers and migrant camps, and inconsistent cooperation across countries have all come to characterize the European treatment of refugees. In this workshop we will discuss the ways that European countries, both together and individually, have created barriers to prevent refugees from reaching the continent. We will also explore the unique ways that European countries have worked together to address the refugee crisis, the challenges of creating a fair international system for aiding refugees, and the prospects for future refugee protection in Europe and the world.

OCTOBER 21, 4:00-6:00 P.M.


The Spatial Nowhere of Rohingya Lives: How Myanmar’s Toxic Citizenship Regime Created a Stateless People

Presented by Ingrid Jordt, Associate Professor of Anthropology, UW-Milwaukee; author of Burma’s Mass Lay Meditation Movement: Buddhism and the Cultural Construction of Power

About the presentation: National identity has come to be the seat of human rights in the Global Era. The nation-state confers citizenship within a spatially distinct territory and polices criteria for belonging. Individuals denied a national identity, Hannah Arendt famously said, are reduced to a “bare life,” a presence defined by the absence of rights. In this presentation, I survey Myanmar’s deadly nation-state building project since Independence in 1948, with particular focus on its impact upon the Rohingya of Rakhine state. Myanmar nationalist ideology, state policy, and populist anti-Rohingya sentiment have combined to erase the Rohingya people through genocide, expulsion, and razing of the physical landscape where Rohingya rights, culture, and habitation existed. I recount historical and contemporary processes that reduce the Rohingya to a stateless people—the State implementation of a regime of “toxic citizenship” premised on the fictions of primordial identities and territorial belonging, and affirmed in political parables whose purpose is the defense of Burmese Buddhist cosmological spatialities and eschatologies.

OCTOBER 28, 4:00-6:00 P.M.

Las Dos Fronteras (The Two Borders): Perspectives on Mexico’s Southern and Northern Borders

Presented by Almita A. Miranda, Assistant Professor in Geography and Chican@/Latin@ Studies and Alicia Barceinas Cruz, PhD Student in Environment and Resources, UW-Madison

About the presentation: In recent years, there has been increased attention placed on the U.S.-Mexico border, from proposals to increase border security, to reports on the human rights abuses of migrants and asylum seekers from Central America and Mexico. In this talk, we will draw on our respective ethnographic projects with Mexican mixed-status families (Miranda) and Central American migrants in transit (Barceinas Cruz) to present a comparative analysis of the Mexican government’s treatment of asylum seekers and return migrants at both their southern and northern borders. Central to our discussion will be questions of immigration policies and processing in border cities as well as resource management and local-level conflicts between Mexican nationals and Central Americans. This talk will also reference some of our pedagogical tools for teaching on subjects, such as border crossings, immigration bureaucracies, economic and environmental migrants, as well as local-level and transborder community organizing.

Alicia Barceinas Cruz is a trained conservation biologist (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) with a master’s in public policy (University of Chicago).  She is currently pursuing a joint PhD in Environment and Resources and Geography at UW-Madison.  Her research engages with environmental conservation and migration discourses and practices. In particular,  she is addressing the intersections of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor in southeast Mexico and the Guatemala-Mexico border.

Rachel Ida Buff teaches history and comparative ethnic studies at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, where she also directs the Cultures and Communities Program. She is author, most recently, of A is for Asylum Seeker: Words for People on the Move/ A de Asilo: Palabras para Personas en Movimiento, a historical glossary of terms meant for a popular audience. An immigration historian, she writes frequently on various topics for a wide range of media outlets.

Ingrid Jordt is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Program for Global Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her past and current research has concerned processes of political legitimation, lay/monastic relations in Buddhist Burma and Buddhist meditation movements in Mainland Southeast Asia. Her principal field site is Burma/Myanmar, where she has been working since 1988, but she has conducted research concerning the export of Burmese Vipassana meditation in Thailand, Malaysia and Laos. She is the author of Burma’s Mass Lay Meditation Movement: Buddhism and the Cultural Construction of Power (Ohio University Press, 2007). In addition to her academic research, Ingrid has been engaged in humanitarian projects and has served in an advisory role to US government agencies. In 2007-2008, she formed Burma Rescue, an effort coordinated with civil society groups in Burma’s Irrawaddy Delta region to bring resources to victims of Cyclone Nargis when the military government was blocking aid from entering the country. Ingrid grew up in Liberia, Korea, India and Singapore before returning to the US to attend the University of California at Berkeley. Her interest in Burma stems to a period after college during which she ordained as a Buddhist nun and undertook silent meditation in Yangon. She completed her PhD in anthropology at Harvard University in 2001.

Almita Miranda is an interdisciplinary cultural anthropologist with research interests in race/ethnicity, gender, political economy, (im)migration, citizenship, transnationalism, Latinx families and grassroots organizing in the U.S. and Mexico.  She received her  Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 2017 and recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America and the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.  Her research focuses on the ways Mexican mixed-status families navigate the legal and social constraints they face.  Almita’s new courses in Geography include Geog 475: Transnational Latinx Communities: Roots & Migration and U.S.-Mexico Borderlands. She has taught courses including Critical Latinx Ethnography at Northwestern University, Dartmouth College, and Brown University.

Anna Oltman is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her dissertation examines the international politics of refugee protection and asylum, specifically the impact of domestic institutions on receiving states’ treatment of asylum-seekers. She is an experienced researcher and teacher in the areas of foreign policy, humanitarianism, international migration, human rights, and public perceptions of international actors.

Please note: As of Monday, August 31st, registration is FULL for this workshop. However, we are maintaining a waitlist. If you would like to be added to this list, please send an email to Mary McCoy (mmcoy2@wisc.edu).

Individuals who participate in all four workshops will receive a professional development badge from Madison College. Please note that this workshop is intended for Community-College Educators.

Individuals who participate in all four workshops in the Refugees and Statelessness series will receive a professional development badge from the Center for International Education at Madison Area Technical College (Madison College).*

The Refugees and Statelessness Curriculum Development badge will provide a shareable link documenting participation in this curriculum pedagogy workshop.

Digital badges are verifiable online micro credentials that document participation or skills attainment related to a specific content area. They are easily shared on social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter, FB, or blogs. For more information on Madison College badges and related micro credential platforms visit the Digital Credentials Institute.

* Individuals must register for and participate in all four of the online seminars (October 7, 14, 21, & 28) to receive this online credential. There is no fee required — all eligible participates will receive the badge free of charge.

If you have any questions about the workshop, please contact Mary McCoy in the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at UW-Madison. Mary can be reached at: mccoy2@wisc.edu.