Resisting Borders: A Virtual Conference on Refugee and Migrant Health, Mobility, Human Rights & Responsibilities

Co-organizer: Dr Lisa Eckenwiler, Associate Professor of Philosophy, George Mason University

by Iman Ali

Resisting Borders: A Virtual Conference on Refugee and Migrant Health, Mobility, Human Rights & Responsibilities

On October 9-11, 2017, the Department of Philosophy and Dr. Lisa Eckenwiler co-hosted the 'Resisting Borders' no-travel virtual conference, which explored the ethical, legal, philosophical, and social issues associated with refugee and migrant health in a world of economic, geopolitical, and psychological borders. The conference gave access to people around the world to participate, regardless of their location, financial resources, or visa and immigration status.

During the conference, participants presented their research and analysis, shared their thoughts, and made suggestions. A total of 340 people – who truly represented a broad international audience – registered to attend, including 24 presenters and 8 moderators. Lisa Eckenwiler, George Mason University, Samia Hurst-Manjo, Geneva University Medical School, and Sean Philpott-Jones, Clarkson University, were the main conference chairs behind the success of the meeting.

The conference extended to a total of three days, for an average of three hours each day. Each session was held during a time that was optimal for a different part of the world, with presenters based in the United States, Canada, Chile, Yemen, Australia, France, and elsewhere. During the conference, attendees had the opportunity to attend various sessions. Topics included: Freedom of Movement, Global Responsibility for Refugees and Structural Injustice, The Morality of Deporting ‘Aliens', Security for Whom?, Unpacking the Gender Impact of EU Securitization Policies on Migration, The Institution of Asylum and Epistemic Injustice: Warnings and Structural Limits, among many others.

At the beginning of each presentation, attendees were presented with background information, followed by an account of the research conducted, and the suggestion of possible solutions to the ongoing barriers and issues. Attendees had an opportunity to ask the presenters questions after each session, either publicly or privately. The discussion portion led to many compelling questions and insightful views.

Many of those in attendance had high praise for the event, with University of Montreal’s Ryoa Chung commenting, "Very impressive, all of it (platform and talks)," and Deborah Zion, of Australia’s Monash University, noting, "This is a truly marvelous event."