an International Conference Co-Organized by
The wrenching image of a three-year-old Syrian boy whose lifeless body washed up on the shores of the Mediterranean, repeatedly appearing on multiple media platforms in September 2015, shocked the world. In recent years, large numbers of people have been displaced in the Middle East and North Africa on a scale not seen since WWII, due to conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Libya. Among these are people fleeing persecution and violence, as well as others running away from instability and poverty, in search of better living conditions. Of the millions who have so far left their homes in search of protection, some have received asylum, while many others experienced discrimination and rejection, fell victim to trafficking, or perished in the course of flight. Thousands have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. The refugee crisis has now become a global humanitarian disaster.
These mass movements demand scholarly attention not only from a humanitarian perspective, but for their impact on the global political structure and economic system as well. Western countries have been divided in their responses to the crisis, and in some societies racism and xenophobia against migrants and refugees alike have been exacerbated.
The Relational Studies on Global Crises Project, an inter-university academic project sponsored by a KAKENHI grant-in-aid in Japan since 2016, considers global phenomena such as this refugee crisis to be products of a web of interconnections. The Project focuses on the transformation of those relationships, rather than on the essential qualities of actors. The problems of refugees and migrants cannot be ascribed to these mobile persons themselves, but rather to dysfunctional relations within an increasingly global economic and political system.
The Center for Relational Studies on Global Crises (RSGC) at Chiba University, a key operations centre for the Project, is holding this conference in collaboration with the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore. The conference will serve as a forum for examining and exchanging ideas on the Global Refugee Crisis. Singapore and Southeast Asia, a crossroads of Asia and the Middle East, is a particularly apt location for such a forum. The organizers hope this collaboration between two Asian research institutions, MEI and RSGC, will contribute to the development of interdisciplinary approaches to refugee and migrant problems from a new perspective focusing on networks and relationships. We hope the conference and its conclusions will foster more international approaches to the problem of refugees and migrant workers among scholars and policy makers, especially in Asia.
Click HERE to access the latest version of the conference programme with details of the list of conference speakers and paper titles.