'Miracles in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt and Refugees as "vanguard" ’

Speaker

Cindy Horst

Peace Research Institute, Oslo, Norway
cindy.horst@prio.org
Organisation
International Institute of Social Studies
Start date

Thursday, 14 Jun 2018, 13:00

End date

Thursday, 14 Jun 2018, 14:00

Room
Room 1.31
Location
International Institute of Social Studies
Cindy Horst
Cindy Horst

In this first Migration Seminar Series, Cindy Horst  of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, Norway will explore the links between civil-political engagement and the life stories of individuals with a refugee background through themes in the work of Hannah Arendt.

The seminar is based on a paper written by Cindy Horst and Odin Lysaker of the University of Agder in Norway. In it they argue that the radical uncertainty that refugees face because of war, flight and exile often dramatically shapes their participation in society.

Violent conflict and human rights abuses are not just disproportionately experienced by, but can also create, political subjects. Such life events can transform the motivations, sense of responsibility, and political actions of individuals with refugee backgrounds.

They explore the links between civil-political engagement and the life stories of such individuals through themes in the work of Hannah Arendt.

  • In what ways does the moral shock of political evil motivate human beings to act long after such experiences?
  • What ‘miracles’ occur even in ‘dark times’?
  • How do such miracles inform intersubjective acts of speech and action?

They argue that the analysis of refugee life-stories has much to gain from Arendt’s political existentialism, and make three central points.

  1. First, they highlight the possibility of refugees as ‘vanguard’, playing a leading role in the struggle against dark times.
  2. Second, they illustrate the importance of expanding the idea of ‘the political’ through Arendt’s understanding of political action as communicative action.
  3. Third, they explore the political freedom and hope that stems from the possibility of ‘new beginnings’.

About the authors

About the authors

Cindy Horst is Research Director and Research Professor in refugee and migration studies at the Peace Research Institute Oslo in Norway. Horst is an anthropologist currently researching refugee protection, civic engagement, and societal transformation. Contact: cindy.horst@prio.org.

Odin Lysaker is a Professor of Ethics at the University of Agder in Norway. Lysaker’s main interests are ethics, political philosophy and social philosophy, and he is currently working on issues such as migration, free speech, and environmental issues. Contact: odin.lysaker@uia.no.

More information

ISS Migration Seminar Series

The ISS migration seminar series is a programme of informal seminar sessions which discuss cutting-edge research on a range of issues within the broad theme of migration.

Contact

Please contact Katarzyna Grabska and Cathy Wilcock for more information.