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Re-Imagining Migration DC Seminar Series, 2019-2020: Session 2

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What specifically is the role of the arts in helping us construct welcoming and inclusive societies for all through education?

This collection is the second in a series of four created to support the Re-Imagining Migration DC Seminar Series, held between December 2019 and March 2020. The seminar series is led by Verónica Boix Mansilla, Senior Principal Investigator for Harvard Graduate School of Education's Project Zero, and Research Director for Re-Imagining Migration, with in-gallery experiences provided by educators from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Museum of American History, the National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, and the National Gallery of Art. This set of collections is designed to be dynamic. We will continue to add material, including participant-created content, throughout the seminar series so that the collections themselves can be used as a type of textbook, reflecting the content, development, and outputs of the full seminar series. Please check back to the hashtag #ReImaginingMigration to see a growing body of materials to support educators as they strive to serve and teach about human migration in relevant and deep ways.

Key to the question of justice in a world shaped by migration is the “recognition gap” – migrants/refugees having lost the status, belonging and recognition in the old land, find themselves unrecognized (viewed as less worthy or invisible) in the new. What are the practices of re-representation/de-stigmatization that prove most effective to bring to light our default “single stories” our “fear” ? What are the daily, aesthetic and cultural tools we have to contribute to the de-stigmatization the refugee, restoring dignity to his, her narrative? In what ways might different lenses (media, demographics, history, art) afford us insights that are unique and relevant?  

In this session we examine the role of the arts to help us engage a topic as difficult and sensitive as the 70 million fellow human beings who have been forced to leave their home.  Our goal is to begin to articulate what arts and artists do when inviting us to engage in complex issues. Because the particulars of a given lens are best highlighted in comparison with others we experience three lenses attempting to tell a similar story about the situation of refugees today: Art, photojournalism, demography.  

Our approach:  We experience Mosses, A WP visual essay and UNHCR report

We ask:  about whom? By whom? For whom? How it speaks to me?  

We then examine the unique affordances of the arts and how other lenses can intersect.

#reimaginingmigration