Crossing Borders – Border Crossings

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Crossing Borders – Border Crossings | Veranstaltungen | Vortrag und Workshop mit Elizabeth Cullen Dunn

Vortrag und Workshop mit Elizabeth Cullen Dunn

Vortrag von Elizabeth Cullen Dunn (Indiana University, Bloomington)

Badiou out of Place: Multiplicities, Ontologies, and the Lived Experience of Forced Migration


Dienstag, 23.10.2018, 14-16 Uhr
Hausvogteiplatz 5-7, Raum 0007
Institutskolloquium, Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, HU Berlin

How do we define political events and the subjects who carry them out? These are fundamental questions taken up by the philosopher Alain Badiou, who has developed a complex theory to explain both "the normal situation" and "the Event" which ruptures it to create a radically different world. Badiou's vision is of a heroic political subject and of an Event that constitutes revolution. But the recent movement of millions of refugees and the "crisis" of forced migration challenges Badiou's notion of both the Event and what it means to be a political subject. Using the lived experiences of forced migrants, I retheorize the Event as an explosion, trace the crisis of coherence and meaning it creates for displaced people, and argue for a rich conception of "the political" as the process of constituting a coherent and actionable world in the wake of cataclysm. In doing so, I seek to reframe who counts as a political actor and rethink what kind of action counts as politics.

Elizabeth Cullen Dunn is Professor of Geography at Indiana University. Her work focuses on refugees and internally displaced people and the humanitarian aid agencies which attempt to assist them. She has conducted more than 20 months of field research in camps and settlements for the displaced. She is the author of Privatizing Poland (2004) and No Path Home: Humanitarian Camps and the Grief of Displacement (2017).  


Workshop mit Elizabeth Cullen Dunn (Indiana University, Bloomington)

Architectures of Refuge and Displacement


Organizers: Interdisciplinary Center „Border Crossings - Crossing Borders" HU Berlin in cooperation with Jens Adam & Regina Römhild, Research Laboratories "Critical Europeanization Studies" and "Migration" at the Institute for European Ethnology
Date: Wednesday October 24, 2018, 3pm-6pm
Venue: Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, HU Berlin, Mohrenstraße 41, 10117 Berlin, Room 212

Refuge and forced migration evoke manifold architectural forms and socio-material arrangements: temporary shelters along the migratory routes and "welcome centers" at places of destination; border fences and camps; lodgings in abandoned repurposed infrastructures and alternative housing projects pushed forward by refugees themselves and their local supporters – in each case movements are transformed into – sometimes ephemeral, sometimes enduring – materialities and become graspable for citizens as much as attackable by political and societal adversaries.
These architectural forms can be read, on the one hand, as effects of state policies, transnational vectors of power and the "networks of violence and care" (Dunn 2017: 17) that have been established to deal with the phenomena of refuge and forced migration. On the other hand, these socio-material arrangements constitute the very sites where the refugees' attempts to "remake themselves as coherent subjects by reforging relationships to places, things, and other people" and hereby to "rebuild a normal situation" (Dunn 2017: 24) take place.
In this workshop we would like to take architectures of refuge as starting point to discuss questions of political subjectivities and migrant agency, regulating policies and domination that shape refuge migration, displacement, detention and deportation as transnational societal dynamics. We invite scholars working in the fields of migration and border studies, humanitarianism and critical europeanization research to join by writing an email to until October 16. Our discussion will be based partly on case studies and ongoing fieldwork. For that purpose we would like to encourage participants to share their empirical insights and analytical reflections about architectures of refuge and displacement during the workshop. Please indicate in your registration in case you would like to present some of your material on this occasion.


Dunn, Elizabeth Cullen (2017): No Path Home. Humanitarian Camps and the Grief of Displacement. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.

An Architektur (2003): Exterritories and Camps. Juridical-Political Spaces in the War on Terrorism.
An Architektur (2002): Grenzgeographie Sangatte.
De Genova, Nicolas (2010): Theoretical Overview. In: Nicolas de Genova & Nathalie Peutz (eds.), The Deportation Regime: Sovereignity, Space, and the Freedom of Movement. Durham, London: Duke University Press, 33-68.
Lenz, Ramona (2010): 'Hotel Royal' and Other Spaces of Hospitality. In: Julie Scott & Tom Selwyn (eds.), Thinking Through Tourism. Oxford, New York: Berg Publishers, 209-230.
Petti, Alessandro, Sandi Hilal, Eyal Weizman (2013): Architecture after Revolution. Berlin: Sternberg Press.
Römhild, Regina, Anja Schwanhäußer, Gökce Yurdakul & Birgit zur Nieden (eds., 2013): Witnessing the Transition: Moments in the Long Summer of Migration. Berlin: Institut für empirische Integrations- und Migrationsforschung.
In this book, see especially: Elena Fontanari: Looking for Neverland. The experience of the group "Lampedusa in Berlin" and the refugee protest of Oranienplatz, 15-34 & Flavia Alice Mameli, Josefine Løndorf Sarkez & Anne van Wetteren: Sensing Tempelhofer Freiheit, 201-214.
Weizman, Eyal (2017): Forensic Architecture. Violence at the Threshold of Detectability. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.