CONF: Refugees and the Transformation of Society

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Subject: CONF: Refugees and the Transformation of Society
From: Jyothi Kanics (jkanics@igc.apc.org)
Date: Wed Jan 20 1999 - 18:21:21 EST


International conference
"Refugees and the Transformation of Society: Loss and Recovery"
21-24 April 1999
Invitation to participate

Dear Colleague,

We are delighted to announce the forthcoming international conference on
"Refugees and the Transformation of Society: Loss and Recovery''.

The conference is to be held in the Netherlands from April 21 to April 24,
1999. There will be two locations: Amsterdam for the opening session and
Soesterberg for the symposia and individual paper and poster presentations.
The maximum number of participants in Soesterberg will be one hundred.

Conference chair
Prof.dr. Joke Schrijvers

Organizing Committee
Maria Brons, MA
Ir. Leonard van Duijn
Dr. Philomena Essed
Prof.dr. Georg Frerks
Prof.dr. Guus L. van Heck
Drs. Cindy Horst
Prof.dr. David Ingleby
Drs. Brigitte Lammers
Dr. Philip Muus
Prof.dr. Joke Schrijvers

Scope of the Conference
Refugee-studies have experienced a major shift in orientation since the
early 1990s. The complexity of understanding refugees as organic to
inter/trans/national transformations is increasingly recognised and
integrated into research and the academic debate. It is by now acknowledged
that it makes little sense to separate the problems of refugees, stayees,
internally displaced people and returnees in a particular crisis area.
Economic, environmental and psychological factors intertwine when setting up
relief operations for refugees. Similarly, there is an increasing effort to
connect strategies for emergency policies to long-term development
programmes in areas of crisis. In-depth analyses of actual refugee
situations can no longer bypass the fact that the boundaries between people
who are actively involved in war, and those belonging to the `civilian
society' are in many cases no longer clear. Both academic understanding and
practical support can be improved by taking into account the specific
histories, contexts, and conflicts that have led to forced migration.
But this should also be imbedded in critical reflection on (inter)national
politics since refugees and constructions of `the refugee' are more and more
being used as pawns in the politics of shifting powers - locally, nationally
and internationally.
 
Being `a refugee' is a label that artificially constructs and degrades
people into a uni-dimensional, homogeneous category. In reality, `refugees'
have many different identities, and are differentiated along many
dimensions, such as gender, age, socio-economic-, ethnic- and regional
background, or caste. Except for sharing the experience of having felt
forced to migrate, they are an extremely heterogeneous category of people.
Legal-administrative differentiations such as `refugees', `asylum-seekers',
`internally displaced people', `stayees' or `returnees' increasingly appear
to be inadequate in order to provide the necessary support. Because of the
ongoing gender-blindness in the practice of refugee-aid - this in spite of
the rhetoric in documents - the model of `the refugee' as an adult male too
often feeds policies. The specific situations of women therefore do not get
the necessary recognition and attention. Children, too, need more particular
attention and support than they are presently given.

People who have gone through the experience of being a refugee are still
predominantly approached as if they are merely passive victims and
recipients without any agency of their own. This in spite of the fact that
outside help usually has been much less crucial for their survival than
their own creativity and coping capacities. Self-organisations of refugees
can be stimulated far more than is done in most situations now. Another
crucial problem is the one-sided emphasis placed on the material aspects of
the supposed needs of refugees, even long after the first stages of acute
life-threatening conditions have been overcome. It is important to emphazise
the immaterial needs of refugees to regain a sense of self and human
dignity. Likewise, it is necessary to recognize the many assets of refugees
and the contributions they can make to the necessary transformation of
societies.

It is against this background, that the conference on Refugees and the
Transformation of Societies: Loss and Recovery intends to provide an input
to develop new trajectories of research and academic perspective. By
explicitly linking together fields that are too often kept separate, the
conference hopes to create innovative knowledge in the field of refugee
studies. Psychology, economy, anthropology, social and political science,
geography, and international and local/national law are equally in demand,
while findings in each of these disciplines complement research in the other.

Format of the Conference
There will be public keynote speeches at the opening session in Amsterdam.
The closed working conference in Soesterberg (at a distance of 50 km from
Amsterdam), limited to 100 participants, will have plenary sessions,
parallel workshops, and poster sessions. On the last day, which will be open
to a broad public consisting of refugees and asylum-seekers, policy-makers,
practitioners, journalists, and others interested, there will be key-note
speeches again, and the results of the closed academic conference will be
presented to and debated with the audience.

Keynote Speeches
The programme includes contributions by:

Dr. Aristide Zolberg, New School for Social Research, New York, U.S.
Dr. Francis Deng, The Brookings Institution, Washington, U.S.
Prof.dr. Debarati Guga-Sapir, Centre for Research on Epidemiology and
Disaster, Louvain, Belgium

Call for papers
We would be pleased to receive from you a paper or a poster to be presented
at the conference. We ask you to indicate the broader context of your
contribution along the four following topics:

* long-term and immediate causes and consequences of forced migrations
* loss and recovery in new environments
* challenges of creating a new home (integration, resettlement, return)
* transformations of countries of origin and host societies

Within these broad topics several specific themes can be covered such as:
 
* individual health and well-being (physical health, psychological state,
identity)
* experiences and views of women
* gender constructions and gender power relations
* social relationships (gender, ethnicity, class, generation) and
socio-cultural rearing
* experiences and views of children and adolescents
* cultural issues (religion, life cycle events, values and norms)
* economic issues (infrastructure, production, assets)
* environmental issues (ecology, demography)
* governance (law, institutions, policy, power relationships)
* politics, media, and public opinion
* conceptualisation, methodology and research techniques

Emphasis will be given to linkages between different themes, which means
that an interdisciplinary and comparative approach is strongly recommended.
We encourage presentations of recent research findings, but papers dealing
with theory building and methodology are also particularly welcome.

Guidelines for submitting abstracts
Abstracts are to be submitted, if possible, in full paper version and either
on diskette (MS.WORD or WP5.0) or through e-mail. Abstracts include title,
author(s), institution, city, country and full mailing address of the
presenting author. All abstracts are submitted in English, in duplicate to
the Conference secretariat.

The deadline for abstracts of individual papers and posters is November 1,
1998. Preference as to paper or poster should be indicated on the abstract.

All proposals will then be reviewed by a programme committee and the final
decision regarding acceptance and form of presentation (paper or poster)
rests with them. No more than two contributions by the same presenting
author can be accepted. Authors will be notified about acceptance and the
required format of their contribution before November 15, 1998.

Abstracts of accepted paper and poster contributions will be published in
the conference proceedings conditional upon registration. Selected
participants will be invited to submit a full paper version of their
presentation for publication in a book. The deadline for the full paper
version of papers and posters is March 15, 1999.

Conference fees
Conference fees cover expenses of the opening ceremony and buffet reception
on the first evening, travel from the Amsterdam location to Soesterberg and
back, attendance at all scientific sessions, the conference abstract book
with abstracts of all oral presentations and poster contributions, lunches,
teas and coffees, a conference banquet, receptions, and stay at Soesterberg
for three nights. For registration, please return the attached form or send
an e-mail message to the conference secretariat.

Conference fees will be:
Normal fees: Dfl 750 ($ 375)
PhD. students: Dfl 450 ($ 225 )

For payments received before December 1, 1998, please subtract an early
registration bonus of
Dfl 50 ($ 25).
For on site registration, please add Dfl 50 ($ 25).

Social events and conference dinner
The opening ceremony and the reception will take place on the premises
of the University of Amsterdam. The conference dinner will be held the
evening of April 21at the Centre Kontakt der Kontinenten at Soesterberg.
The closing session will be held either at the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs in The Hague, or in Amsterdam.

Language
The official language of the conference will be English. No simultaneous
translation will be provided.

Transport
Route descriptions (by car or public transport from Schiphol Airport
(Amsterdam) or Brussels Airport) will be sent together with the
confirmation of registration.

Accommodation
Hotel reservation forms will be sent together with the final announcement.
Participants should be aware to book separately for lodging other than the
three nights at the Centre Kontakt der Kontinenten.

Visas
Participants should check with their local agents whether they will require
a visa to travel to The Netherlands. If so, they are advised to apply to the
nearest Dutch Embassy or Consulate at least two months before the intended
date of travel.

Insurance
Please arrange for your own travel insurance. The organisers do not accept
liability for accidents, theft or property damage, nor for delays or any
alterations in the programme due to unforeseen circumstances.

Cancellations
Cancellations should be notified in a signed letter or fax to the conference
chair before December 1, 1998. A refund of 50% of the fee will be made,
minus bank costs incurred.

Publication
After the conference, an edited volume on `Refugees and the Transformation
of Societies: Loss and Recovery' will appear. Participants will receive
the book free of charge.

The venue
The conference will be held at the University of Amsterdam, the Centre
Kontakt der Kontinenten (situated in a forest area just outside
Soesterberg, close to Amersfoort ) and probably at the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs in The Hague.

Further information
For inquiries and further information about the conference, please contact:

Ms. Drs. Brigitte Lammers
InDRA, University of Amsterdam
Nieuwe Prinsengracht 130
1018 VZ Amsterdam

Phone: +31 (0)20 525 5032/4063
Fax: +31 (0)20 525 4051
E-mail: B.Lammers@frw.uva.nl

Request for registration

Please register me for the conference and send me the conference programme.

Name (and title):
............................................................................
............................

First name:
............................................................................
............................

Institute/Organisation:
............................................................................
............................

Department:
............................................................................
............................

Address:
............................................................................
............................

City:
............................................................................
............................

Zip/Postal code:
............................................................................
............................

Country:
............................................................................
............................

telephone: __________________________

fax: ___________________________.

e-mail:
............................................................................
............................

preference for single room: yes/no
can share room with another participant: yes/no

In order to register for the conference, please return this form to:

Ms. Drs. Brigitte Lammers,
InDRA, University of Amsterdam
Nieuwe Prinsengracht 130
1018 VZ Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Or send an e-mail with your name and address to: B.Lammers@frw.uva.nl


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