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In search of accountability 



Date: 5 - 6 October 2023

Venue: University Paul Valery Montpellier 3, France

Language: English and French

Key Guests:

Douglas Herman & Sonia Nandzik (ReFOCUS Media Labs)

Luz Maria Sanchez Cardona (Professor and Transdisciplinary Artist, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)

Suha Araj (Filmmaker) & Anna La Chocha Albelo (Producer)

Félicien de Heusch (University of Liège) & Gaspard Njock (La Sorbonne)

Workshop Organizers:

Syd Bolton & Catriona Jarvis (The Last Rights Project of Methoria)

Prof Yumna Masarwa (The American College of the Mediterranean (ACM, Aix-en-Provence))

Prof Judith Misrahi-Barak (EMMA, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3)

About Thanatic Ethics:

Thanatic Ethics: The Circulation of Bodies in Migratory Spaces, began with a single question: What happens to the bodies of migrants who perish on foreign shores, often while making perilous journeys across land and sea in search of better lives? The migration crisis in recent years has modified our perspective on the deaths in migration, at sea or on land. Recent works have sought to quantify the number of casualties (Heller and Pécoud 2017; Sapkota et al. 2006). Others strive to retrieve the identity of these people in the thin traces they left behind (Kobelinsky and Le Courant 2017; Cattaneo 2018). And when nothing material is left, what endures is the memory of tragic wrecking, commemorated by plaques, monuments or art pieces, in the wake of earlier dumping of bodies overboard in colonial and slavery contexts.

Project Co-convenors:

Dr Bidisha Banerjee (IRCCS, The Education University of Hong Kong)

Dr Thomas Lacroix (Sciences Po-CERI)

Prof Judith Misrahi-Barak (EMMA, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3)

About TE Workshop #4:

After several series of webinars, three workshops and two international conferences between October 2020 and December 2022, this transnational and transdisciplinary project is now seeking papers for Workshop #4, focusing on the specific theme of accountability, examined from different angles and disciplines, ranging from social sciences to the humanities and the arts. 

Understanding the cause of, and holding to account those responsible for the death of any individual, from the basic acknowledgement and recording of a death, to the diligent investigation of the reasons for that death and attribution of any liability, are essential to the fundamental right to truth and justice. Without a proper attempt to understand how a death arose, natural or otherwise, there can be no real truth. Without a process of prosecuting to determine liability, no justice and no dignity are accorded to the person in death. Worse still, an absence of truth and justice creates a system of impunity and devalues and degrades human life itself.

Such impunity has been seen in many examples of egregious acts by authoritarian regimes, in civil conflicts and war, not least, the systematic disappearance of civilians, genocides and other war crimes. What is now being seen globally, is the increasing disregard for human life, demonstrated through the ways in which states pursue border security and immigration control policies. The high numbers of deaths on border crossing journeys which result, are in effect, the use of death as a deterrent and as punitive measure for migrants who are unable to use safe and lawful migration routes. 

Workshop #4 will explore what measures are needed to achieve accountability; their sources as rights and obligations, legal and ethical, to prevent impunity and to promote human dignity, truth and justice in the migration context and indeed, how prevention of impunity may be achieved in relation to all interactions between the individual and the state. The role of writers, activists and artists but also of community centres and art institutions in raising such awareness and reaching accountability should also be made central, as well as the role of literature and the arts in changing the paradigm.


Abstracts and Bios

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