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Simpson Center for the Humanities

Full Mellon Sawyer Seminar Series Now Available

Black and white collage of speaker profiles in YouTube series

June 7, 2021

From The Mellon Sawyer Seminar Team

At the end of this extraordinary academic year, we are delighted to announce that the full webinar series of the Mellon Sawyer Seminar Humanitarianisms: Migrations and Care through the Global South is now available online

Through the program’s three thematic clusters-- Decentering Migration and Decolonizing Humanitarianism, Comparative Humanitarianisms, and Rethinking the Human, the webinars examine the histories of forced migration and practices of humanitarian care for forced migrants, including both “conventional” and “humanitarian” refugees that developed outside of Europe and North America. The webinars examine the conceptual categories that organize humanitarian practices, and illuminate how values, beyond those of the Western Enlightenment, relate to  human suffering in the Global South.

Additional information about our series speakers and topics can be found on the YouTube channel of the Simpson Center for the Humanities and the Mellon Sawyer website  Humanitarianisms.org.  For instructors who are interested in using these webinars in their courses, Humanitarianisms.org also provides pedagogical tools and suggestions on how to embed webinar modules into their classroom teaching, along with supporting recommended assignments and suggested readings. All webinars have thematic indexing and accessibility captioning.

Decentering Migration and Decolonizing Humanitarianism (Fall 2020)

Refugees and First Nations Sovereignty with Anne McNevin

Anne McNevin discusses First Nations Sovereignty and refugees detained under the t terms of Australian border security as a way to rethink gestures of welcome, responsibility, and care and how to decolonize humanitarianism.

Palestinian Rights and the Postcolonial Origins of Refugee Rights with Illana Feldman & Pamela Ballinger

Ilana Feldman and Pamela Ballinger discuss Palestinian refugee rights and the postcolonial origins of refugee rights.  They explore how refugees—international and internally displaced, recognized and unrecognized by various institutions—shape the political, legal, ethical, and lived worlds of humanitarianism and human rights.

Migrant Management and National Liberation with Jessica Whyte and Emma Meyer

Jessica Whyte and Emma Meyer discuss national liberation struggles and the management of migrants as key arenas for rethinking the concepts of humanity, humanitarianism, refuge-making and law by focusing on the formerly unrecognized arenas and actors of humanitarianism in the Global South.

Comparative Humanitarianisms (Winter 2021)

Middle Eastern Refugees Hosting Syrian Refugees with Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh

Professor Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh discusses Middle Eastern refugee responses, including hosting, to the displacement of Syrian refugees since 2011. This includes an overview of the roles played by local host communities, faith-based networks, Southern states including Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, and refugees themselves.

Comparative Humanitarianism in Egypt & the Himalayas with Amira Mittermaier & Sienna Craig

Amira Mittermaier and Sienna Craig discuss comparative humanitarianisms in Egypt and the Himalayas. Both articulate the need to move away from human-centric, conventional humanitarianisms by bringing to light the Islamic, Tibetan, and Himalayan logics of giving and aid in Egypt, Himalayas, and the U.S. 

Religious Humanitarianism in Jordan and Uganda with Basit Kareem Iqbal and China Scherz

Basit Kareem Iqbal and China Scherz discuss religious humanitarianism in Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan and at the Franciscan Nuns' Mercy House in Kiganda, Uganda.

Rethinking the Human Through Comparative Humanitarianisms (Spring 2021)

Rescuing the Dead and Rethinking the Human with Sinan Antoon 

Sinan Antoon discusses rescuing the dead and rethinking the human to explore how the inequalities that characterize and persist in human life endure in death and grief, as well. Antoon asks us to think of war’s collateral damage as a black hole into which worlds disappear and from which not even the dead are safe.

Humanitarianism and Mutual Aid Beyond Capitalism with Dean Spade and Cristian Capotescu 

Law professor Dean Spade and historian Cristian Capotescu talk about humanitarianism and mutual aid under conditions of crisis caused by capitalism and charity in a socialist context. In each talk, these scholars explore our theme Rethinking the Human by attending to what care means through practices that privilege equality, solidarity, shared suffering, and collective self-determination.

Rethinking Humanitarianism and Seeing Beyond the Human with Nermeen Mouftah and Juno Salazar Parreñas 

Nermeen Mouftah and Juno Salazar Parreñas invite us to think about empathy beyond human relations and how human-animal relations are forged and tested in the service of humanitarian work.  In each talk, these scholars explore our theme, Rethinking the Human, by attending to what common humanity would be if we take into consideration our relations with non-humans and the environment.