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Invitation to Join our Panel---Roundtalbe Discusssion on Asylum Seeking Crisis at SfAA 2016 Vancouver

Invitation to Join our Roundtable Discussion on Asylum Seeking Crisis

The world is confronted with the largest migration crisis since World War II. Desperate migrants and asylum seekers are stuck in the borders without a solution. Despite some countries taking in refugees, the offers fall short of what is needed. Who qualifies as a refugee for asylum protection? Currently, being from Syria is the surest path to refugee status. But there are Afghans, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Africans and others in Europe; and Africans, Asians, Arabs and Central and South Americans in North America. Often without legal documents, how do you know who they say they are?  Some have focused on the “medical certificates” as the ultimate proof of torture (Fassin and d’Halluin 2005), others depend on cultural and linguistic evidence (Good 2003, Schwandner-Sievers 2006).  In this intersection between asylum law and anthropology, anthropologists are uniquely qualified to ascertain the identity of the “Anthropological figure” (Fassin 2013).

This roundtable is jointly organized by an anthropologist (ChorSwang Ngin) with a decade-long experience working with asylum seekers and an immigration attorney (Joann Yeh).

We invite your participation to share your experience researching and working with asylum seekers from around the world. Please contact us if your work covers any of the following areas:

1.      Theoretical Intersections: How does working with asylum seekers and the asylum process intersect with law, concepts of “race,” culture, gender, and religion?

2.      Collaborative Intersections: As applied anthropologists, what is the nature of your collaboration with other asylum advocates such as attorneys, activists, translators, NGOs, social services?

3.      Constraints and Possibilities: What major constraints (theoretical, logistical, ethical, and emotional) have you encountered? What insights and possibilities have you encountered (such as sharper ethnographic fieldwork, theoretical clarity, etc.)

4.      The Future: Following the footpaths of earlier anthropologists working in the asylum process (Loucky 1992, Good 2003, Bohmer and Shuman 2008, Schwandner-Sievers, 2006), how do we engage younger researchers and practitioners in this humanitarian concern?

Please send a 150 word proposal by Monday, October 12, 2015, to cngin@calstatela.edu to join our Roundtable Discussion.



ChorSwang Ngin, Ph.D. Department of Anthropology, California State University, Los Angeles, CA

Joann Yeh, Esq., Raynor & Associates, Los Angeles, CA

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