Resisting Borders

A Virtual Conference on Refugee & Migrant Health, Mobility, Human Rights & Responsibilities.

Resisting Borders

On October 9th - 11th 2017, GMU Philosophy professor Lisa Eckenwiler will be co-hosting a no-travel virtual conference to explore the ethical, legal, philosophical, and social issues associated with refugee and migrant health in a world of economic, geopolitical, and psychological borders.

Refugees and many migrants suffer from limits on their abilities to move around the world, even in pressing or urgent circumstances. They are often forced to leave their homes for reasons beyond their control, including war and civil unrest, political and religious persecution, economics, or famine and other natural or man-made disasters.

Once displaced, whether internally or externally, they face pressing needs for food, water, shelter, and health care. Local governments, international agencies and non-governmental organizations often struggle with providing for their needs, particularly in resource-poor regions of the world. Recent socio-political changes in the United States, Western Europe and elsewhere have placed additional restrictions on the rights of migrants and refugees.

Describing the inception of this conference, Professor Eckenwiler, who has published on the concept of solidarity and also on health justice for migrants, stated,  “While I’ve been working with my research team on issues related to migrant health and mobility for a while now, the travel ban served as the spark for this conference. Some scholars have recommended boycotting academic meetings in the U.S., so we thought an online conference would be a good opportunity for scholars in the U.S. to contribute to an important issue while still respecting the choices of the academic community abroad to avoid traveling to the U.S. for the foreseeable future.”

Regardless of one’s political stances, however, Professor Eckenwiler believes that online conferences such as this one are important step for the future of academia. “The field is currently skewed toward North America, but there are people doing good work globally who are unable to travel to conferences like this one due to either a lack of resources or issues with visas and other travel restrictions,” she notes, “we can bring together people doing important work who would otherwise never meet. Never mind that an online conference leaves a low carbon footprint.”

In the end, Professor Eckenwiler hopes that this event will inspire others to stand in greater solidarity with migrants and refugees, and encourage others to hold conferences such as this one.

Registration is FREE at