Banner for upcoming symposium: Border Trouble April 26-29, 2021

Border Trouble: Migration, Research Creation, Art & Policy, a 4-day online symposium April 26-29

We are thrilled to share that we will be hosting an online symposium between April 26-29, 2021 entitled, Border Trouble: Migration, Research Creation, Art & Policy. The symposium will include round tables on research creation and policymaking, a panel on journalism and human rights, and a workshop on migrant-led art initiatives. 

The symposium will bring together academics, community members, researchers, journalists and artists in what will be an event you don’t want to miss! Registser at Eventbrite: . If you have any questions, you can contact our Project Facilitator, Nooreen Hussain at

Program for Border Trouble symposium
View or download the Border Trouble program (pdf)

About this Event

When Behrouz Boochani, Kurdish-Iranian human rights activist/journalist/writer was in the Australian-run offshore refugee detention camp, in Manus Island, Papua New Guinea he secretly wrote around one hundred articles and a book and made a film all on his smartphone: the multi award-winning book No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison and the critically acclaimed co-directed film “Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time” (with Arash Kamali Sarvestani). Through writing and art he was able to share his harrowing story with the world. He is joined by his longtime collaborator and translator Dr. Omid Tofighian. Boochani and Tofighian, together with several other participants, feature in the symposium Border Trouble: Migration, Research Creation Art & Policy April 26-29, 2021, in which the power of migrants telling their own stories to influence governments and communities, will be discussed.

In addition to the Boochani and Tofighian event, the 4-day, free online conference, co-hosted by Ryerson and London South Bank Universities will include 3 other interactive sessions, including:

  • A workshop exploring human rights stories through performance, led by UK-based artist Sebastian Aguirre.
  • A panel discussion featuring three migrant art-practitioners/companies exploring what it means to create migrant-situated knowledge through creative practice.
  • A final session bringing together researchers from Project Finding Home to discuss experiences and findings of their three-year SSHRC-funded project. They’ll highlight intersections and key insights from their international research creation activities.

The symposium will address some of the following questions:

  • How can art practice become a space where citizenship is performed by homeless or underhoused refugees and asylum seekers?
  • How can these practices be mobilized as knowledge that can impact the host culture?
  • How can research creation enhance, contradict, complement, or reinvent the official process of crossing a border, finding housing and striving for citizenship?
  • How can arts-based research impact policy?

The symposium is the culminating event of Project Finding Home, a SSHRC-funded 3-year international project exploring the complex intersection between forced migration and new place-making strategies through art and storytelling.

Program + Schedule

Session 1 | Monday April 26 | 2 PM (EST)/7 PM (GMT)

‘THIS IS WHO I AM’: Research Creation, Migration and Policy (Workshop)

Moderator: Dr. Elena Marchevska (London South Bank University)

Presenters: Sebastian Aguirre (ice&fire), Aleks Dughman (Canadian Council of Refugees)

Activist and artist, Sebastian Aguirre introduces us to the work of ice&fire, an arts. organization which “explores human rights stories through performance.” Actors will share verbatim testimonies from LGBTQ+ refugees on their experience in their own country and on arrival in the UK. The workshop will be followed by a discussion with VP of Canadian Council of Refugees, Aleks Dughman, exploring the intersections between their work, art and policy.

Session 2 | Tuesday April 27 | 2 PM (EST)/7 PM (GMT)

‘HOME IS A SITE OF MEMORY’: Migrant-Led Art Initiatives (Panel I)

Moderator: Dr. Carolyn Defrin

Presenters: d’bi.young anitafrika, Khaled Barakeh, Jorge Lozano, Dr. Aine O’Brien

In a world characterized by migration, we need a fuller analysis of how people, states, and NGOs deal with migration, flight, and heterogenous mobility. Artists Lozano, Anitafrika and Barakeh, along with Curator and Co-Founder of Counterpoints Arts, Dr. Aine O’Brien will discuss their work and what it means to create migrant-situated knowledge through creative practice.

Session 3 | Wednesday April 28 | 4:00 PM (EST)/ 9:00 PM (GMT)/ 9:00 AM (NZDT)

JOURNALISM, MIGRATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS: In Conversation with Journalist/Activist Behrouz Boochani & Collaborator/Translator Dr. Omid Tofighian (Keynote)

Moderator: Dr. Mehraneh Ebrahimi

Presenters: Behrouz Boochani, Dr. Omid Tofighian

When Behrouz Boochani, Kurdish-Iranian human rights activist/journalist was in the Australian-run refugee detention camp in Manus Island, Papua New Guinea he used his smartphone to secretly write over 100 articles, a book – the award-winning No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison – and a film “Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time.” In this way was able to expose the AU government’s disastrous human rights policy. He will be joined by his longtime collaborator and translator Dr. Omid Tofighian Boochani and Tofighian to discuss how migrants, displaces and exiled people can tell their own stories to influence governments and communities.

Session 4 | Thursday April 29 | 2 PM (EST)/7 PM (GMT)

MY BODY IS THE MACHINE THAT MAKES MY DREAMS: Project Finding Home Across Geographies

Presenters: Dr. Elena Marchevska (London South Bank University), Dr. Carolyn Defrin (artist/researcher UK/US), Dr. Marusya Bociurkiw (Ryerson University), Dr. Caroline Lenette (University of New South Wales), Nooreen Hussain (Ryerson University), Flora Mwashokera, Winstan Whitter

In a departure from traditional academic models, co-researchers from the SSHRC- funded Project Finding Home included academics, migrants, artists and refugees. In this panel, they come together to discuss best practices in participatory research creation and share stories of collaboration, activism and artistic dreaming.

*Note that each session runs for 1 hour and 30 minutes each day.