/ Colloques - journées d’étude

Journée d’étude : « Displacement, Transnational Mobility and Religious Realities »

26 juin 2018 - 27 juin 2018, au Centre Jean Bosco, 14 Rue Roger Radisson, 69005 Lyon


The displacement of millions due to the ongoing war in Syria has shaken citizens around the world, compelling many to offer assistance, while also challenging the universally defined social categories and legal processes that inform these responses. Much of the mainstream focus on the global refugee crisis oscillates between two hegemonic representations : the abstract and individuated ideals of “universal humanity” which informs the political discourse and ethical actions of humanitarianism, and the ethnically and territorially defined categories of national citizenship against which an objectified figure of “the refugee” comes into relief. While humanitarian discourses tend to depoliticise the conditions and consequences of displacement by obscuring the already racialised, sexualised, and religious framings of the refugee as an object of compassion or suspicion (Vasquez & DeWind, 2014, Agier 2011, Fassin 2012, Feldman 2015, Fiddian-Qasmiyeh 2016 ; Ticktin 2011, 2016), the state-centred approaches often naturalise the political conditions of borders, territorial divisions, and ethnic boundaries of citizenship that have in fact produced multiple forms of displacement to which the nation-state is now posed as the solution (Albahari 2015 ; Haddad 2008 ; Malkki 1992).

This workshop intends to bring together scholars, activists and experts from civil society to offer alternatives to these perspectives by attending to the political underpinnings, socio-spatial manifestations and religious realities of displacement that lie in between (and beyond) universal humanity and bounded citizenship. We invite papers that provide nuanced perspectives on the lives and struggles of displaced populations from below, as these lives are shaped by the contingencies of their dwelling and movement across the Middle East, Africa, and the Mediterranean. How do we address the historical connections between border politics, asylum, and ethno-religious differentiation in the global south where most of the displaced people originate from and are currently residing ? Which conceptual frameworks, epistemological concerns, empirical evidence, and research methods provide productive analytical lens for understanding and addressing displacement (Roulleau-Berger 2017 ; Bredeloup 2014) ? What are the policy implications and potential intervention areas of our analyses ? Against the backdrop of these broad scholarly, political and ethical concerns, we aim to explore the representations, social geographies, and religious underpinnings of displacement. The religious dimension aims to address the shortcomings of secular epistemologies in understanding the lived realities of displaced populations (Vasquez & DeWind 2014, Zaman 2016, Ferris 2011 ; Fiddian-Qasmiyeh 2011 ; Wilson 2011).

Our interrogation of the social, institutional, and legal representations of the “refugee” concern the material effects of such representations, not merely in the form of border and immigration policies (Agier 2016 ; Squire 2010), electoral politics (Hurd 2016) and humanitarian responses (Agier 2011 ; Beaman et. al. 2016), but also in how displaced people negotiate such representations while seeking or denying humanitarian assistance, legal protection, and political support (Baban et. al. 2017 ; Fiddian-Qasmiyeh 2016 ; Zaman 2016). How do different state actors and supranational bodies define, govern, or exclude displaced and immigrant populationsvis-à-vis their own citizens/members ? How do migration and asylum become politicised in electoral politics and xenophobic discourses ? Are there diverse responses of secular and faith-based humanitarian organizations tending to different ethnoreligious communities in hosting countries ? How do displaced people make social, legal, and political claims to place and citizenship on ethnic, sexual, religious, and social grounds ?

While representations matter, case-studies from a variety of contexts show that the lived realities of displacement and transnational mobility go well beyond identity politics, nation-state formation, territorially defined processes of border-making and legal frameworks of asylum (Sadouni 2014, Allan 2016 ; Nijhawan 2016). These realities often concern multiple imaginaries, social geographies, collective memories, and semiotic, affective, and embodied processes manifested in mundane forms of relatedness (Dağtaş 2017 ; Parizot 2008 ; Rozakou 2012 ; Zaman 2016). To delve further into these domains, this workshop seeks to foreground ethnographic inquiries into existing and emergent relations of kin, exchange, hospitality, neighborliness, and frictions between and among the displaced, hosting, and settler communities (which include formerly displaced groups or long-term migrants) outside institutional contexts. How does power operate in mundane social relations and how are these relations interrupted, circumscribed, and transformed by the frames of humanitarianism and national citizenship ? When do the micro-political relations of hospitality, neighborliness, friendship, and kinship mirror the broader political processes, and what alternatives, if any, to policy do they provide ? What is the role of space, scale, and place making in addressing displacement as a historically produced and socially configured force of everyday interaction ?

As a marker of identity or legal affiliation as well as a socially configured ethical force of everyday interaction, religion has been at the centre of multiple histories of displacement and border making that have produced the present sociopolitical situations of migration and asylum across the world (Adelkhah 2015 ; Sadouni 2009, 2014 ; Chatty 2010). Alongside these histories are realities and memories of religious difference whichattach religious identity to national tendencies. Sunni/Shi’a relations, Christian, Muslim, and other minoritised religious groups, and contested processes of secularization in the global south and the north all come together to inform public opinion as well as humanitarian and state responses to displaced people (Chatty 2010 ; Goździak and Shandy 2002 ; Mavelli and Wilson 2016 ; Saunders et. al 2016 ; Zaman 2016). Hence, this workshop presents religion as a productive lens with which to examine the epistemologies, representations, and socialities of displacement and transnational mobility. In this light, our concluding discussion will examine the multifarious role of religion in the displacement, emplacement, and movement of refugees. How do refugees use movement to reconfigure their ethno religious difference and political struggles at the root of their displacement ? Why and how does religion matter to migrants and asylum seekers in their daily encounters with state actors, faith-based and secular humanitarian agencies, and diverse local communities ? In what ways does religion become inflected by gender, social class, race, and sexuality in social contexts of displacement ? What kind of relationships do these encounters forge at the local, national, and transnational level, and what are the implications of these relations for our understandings of the categories of “refugee”, “migrant,” and “minority” ?

Based on these discussions and questions, we envision the workshop to have four overarching themes :

  • Contexts and Concepts : Epistemologies, Memories, and Methodologies
  • Social, Institutional, and Legal Representations of the “Refugee”
  • The Ethics and Politics of Relatedness : Hospitality, Neighbourliness, and Kinship
  • Religion and Migration

While exploring these four themes, we expect to foreground the relatively understudied domain of religion in refugee studies, identify gaps and strengths of the existing scholarship on asylum, and heighten public awareness of the political, religious, and cultural stakes of displacement, to be mobilised for better policies. Ultimately, through our focus on transnational mobility, religious realities, and displacement, we aim to problematize the legal category of “refugee” as bounded in space by naturalised borders and universalised categorizations of asylum.


Tuesday June 26, 2018/ Mardi 26 juin 2018

13H45 : Welcome and Introduction

Welcome : Hervé Joly TRIANGLE, Collegium de Lyon

  • Secil Dagtas (University of Waterloo, Collegium de Lyon)
  • Samadia Sadouni (Sciences Po Lyon, TRIANGLE)

14h-17h : Refugees, Mobilisations and Hospitality (in Room/Salle “Michel Rua”)
Session I (14h-15h15) : Chair/Présidence : Hervé Joly (TRIANGLE, Collegium de Lyon)

  • Suzan Ilcan (University of Waterloo), Precarious Routes : Temporary Protection, Everyday Living, and Migrant Journeys of Syrian Refugees
  • Tahir Zaman (University of Sussex), Can Responses to Mass Displacement be Convivial ?

Coffee Break/Pause Café (15h15-15h45)

Session II (15h45-17h) : Chair/Présidence : Hervé Joly (TRIANGLE, Collegium de Lyon)

  • Sylvie Bredeloup (IRD/AMU, UMR LPED), A Propos des Migrations Africaines d’Aventures.
  • Sofian Merabet (University of Texas at Austin/IEA-Nantes) Displacement and Transnational Mobility among Queer-identified Syrians in Lebanon

17h30-20h Roundtable/Table-ronde Forced Migration, Social Inclusion, and Humanitarian Actions in Context (in the amphitheater “François de Sales”).

Avec/With the participation of :

  • Sabreen Al Rassace (documentary filmmaker, co-founder of Lesbiennes of Color (LOCs) and affiliated with Association Revivre, France)
  • Nuhad Alkhoury (France, Syria)
  • Kristen Biehl (independent anthropologist, researcher at the Istanbul Policy Center at Sabanci University, Turkey, team leader of EU projects on Turkey)
  • Muhammad El-Kashef (field researcher, legal consultant, and a member of Refugees’ Solidarity Movement in Alexandria (RSMA) and WatchTheMedAlarmphone, Germany/Egypt)
  • Marina Liakis (director and co-founder of the Orange House - Zaatar Organization, Greece)
  • Asmaa Samlali (member of LOC)

20h30 : Dinner/Dîner

Wednesday June 27, 2018 / Mercredi 27 juin 2018

10h-10h45 : Migrant journeys, mobility in context (in Room/Salle “Michel Rua”)
Session I (10h-11h50) : Chair/Présidence : Samadia Sadouni (Sciences Po Lyon, TRIANGLE)

  • Fariba Adelkhah (Sciences Po, CERI), Les Catégories de Mojaver et de Moaved dans l’Histoire Iranienne Contemporaine.
  • Didem Danis (Galatasaray University), Religious Networks, Faith-Based Organizations and the Reception of Forced Migrants in Turkey
  • Olivia Legrip-Randriambelo (LADEC, Lyon), À quelle paroisse se vouer ? Inscriptions religieuses des Malgaches en mobilité en France.

Lunch Break (12h-13h15)

Session II (13h15-14h45) : Chair/Présidence (Secil Dagtas, University of Waterloo/Collegium de Lyon)

  • Gerda Heck (The American University in Cairo), Worshipping along the Routes of Migration : Religion as Infrastructure.
  • Hilal Alkan (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient Berlin), Doors Open, Doors Shut : Reflections on (Un)welcoming Syrian Migrants in Istanbul

Comité scientifique du colloque

Sylvie Bredeloup (IRD/AMU, UMR LPED)
Secil Dagtas (Université Waterloo, Collegium de Lyon)
Hervé Joly (CNRS, TRIANGLE, Collegium de Lyon)
Laurence Roulleau-Berger (CNRS, TRIANGLE)
Samadia Sadouni (Sciences Po Lyon, TRIANGLE)

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