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September 14: Katy Fulfer (Waterloo)

3:30 to 5:00 pm in KTH 109

Welcoming Refugees? Rootlessness, In-Betweenness, and Belonging”

Abstract: 

How do we responsibly welcome refugees into our political communities as active participants? Drawing on Origins of Totalitarianism, I begin with Hannah Arendt’s conception of rootlessness, which captures the experience of being geographically, culturally, and existentially uprooted from one’s place in the world. Some dimensions of rootlessness may persist when a refugee resettles in a new country, as resettlement does not guarantee political inclusion. Next, drawing on her 1943 essay “We Refugees,” I examine how assimilation is a strategy that refugees may employ to assert belonging. While Arendt reveals how assimilation perpetuates rootlessness, she tends to depict assimilation as a totalizing experience. To reveal possibilities for counter-resistance to forces of assimilation, I draw on Mariana Ortega’s (2016) phenomenology of in-betweenness, arguing that rootlessness is a mode of in-betweenness that can offer potential for resisting assimilation. Finally, I examine how memory and story-telling support refugees and welcomers in building political community together.