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Kupferberg Holocaust Center-NEH: Fleeing Genocide: Displacement, Exile, and the Refugee: Introduction

Fleeing Genocide: Displacement, Exile, and the Refugee

Fleeing Genocide: Displacement, Exile, and the Refugee is a Kupferberg Holocaust Center (KHC) colloquia series comprising of eight events, which puts the past in conversation with the present by exploring the history of genocide and refugees. The programs explore the genocides that create refugee populations, and examine the challenges facing refugee populations as they seek to find asylum in countries and communities that are often resistant to accepting them.

The series demonstrates the multifarious complexity of the refugee experience in the past and present; creates, shapes, and revises multidisciplinary discourses around questions of refugees; and provides the inter-textual material to empower the college community with the means to join these developing global conversations on inclusivity. Each program offers a different disciplinary perspective that builds on the argument that the condition of the refugee extends across several spaces of identity, being global and local, social and personal simultaneously. The series also highlights the critical need for global inclusion, both by demonstrating the deeply multidimensional impact of the refugee experience precipitated by genocide and by emphasizing its historical and contemporaneous urgency.

The eight events work collectively to engage students and the community, asking them to reflect on the phenomenon of genocide and the creation of refugees and inspiring them to move beyond abstract compassion. The series also explores refugee experience amongst our diverse student and faculty body. Regular reflective workshops following scheduled speakers allow students smaller and more personalized forums to empower them to join the developing global conversations on inclusivity. Additionally, the final two events feature work from members of our Queensborough community, bridging events of war and genocide from far-flung spaces to the local and familiar.

The 2016-17 Harriet & Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center (KHC) & National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) colloquium, Fleeing Genocide: Displacement, Exile and the Refugee, was organized by Drs. Aliza Atik, Kathleen Alves, and Mirna Lekic of Queensborough Community College, CUNY. Initiated in the 2012-13 academic year, this colloquia series was made possible thanks to support from a five-year NEH Challenge Grant. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this web resource do not necessarily represent those of the NEH.

List of Programs

Program 1. Refuge Denied: St. Louis Passengers and the Holocaust
Held on September 21, 2016

Scott Miller is the former Chief Curator at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), a position he held for nearly 30 years. During this event, he discusses his book, co-authored with Sarah Ogilvie, on the fate of the passengers of the St. Louis ship that left Nazi Germany in 1939 only to be turned away by the U.S. and Cuban governments upon arrival.

Program 2. Exhibition Preview: The Jacket From Dachau
Held on October 5, 2016

Dr. Cary Lane, KHC Curator-in-Residence and Associate Professor of English at Queensborough Community College, discusses the process of research and discovery that led to the development of the KHC's exhibition, The Jacket From Dachau. The exhibit centers around the stories of a very special artifact donated to the KHC: a prisoner's "jacket" from Kaufering (Dachau), discovered to have belonged to Ben Peres, a Lithuanian Jew whose original name was Benzion Peresetzki, who emigrated to Long Island after liberation from a displaced persons camp. 

Program 3. Building a Better Future: Supporting Refugee Youth to Thrive
Held on November 16, 2016

Sara Rowbottom, Senior Technical Advisor, Education & Youth at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), highlights issues relevant to educating refugees, providing information on IRC’s educational programs, and discussing the IRC Refugee Youth Summer Academy, a six-week program designed to transition newly arrived refugees into New York schools.

Program 4. Displacement, Refuge, Migration - The Context of United Nations’ Peace Operations
Held on December 7, 2016

Mr. Stefan Feller, a former Police Advisor to the United Nations who served as a Director in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, discusses crises that cause internal and external displacement, and the challenges of reverting displacement and migration.

Program 5. A Common Thread of Uncommon Courage, Part I: From Genocide to Human Rights Activist
Held on February 22, 2017

Jacqueline Murekatete, founder of the Genocide Survivors Foundation and Human Rights activist, speaks about her own experiences as a victim of the Rwandan genocide.

Program 6. The LGBTQ Refugee Crisis
Held on March 24, 2017

Through personal stories of LGBTQ refugees and those who advocate for them, this program led by former New York City Councilmember Daniel Dromm examines the challenges facing LGBTQ populations as they flee from brutality and oppression, and navigate the complicated world of exile. Featured panelists include Pamela Denzer​, former Client Programs Director at Immigration Equality; Sebastian Maguire, Esq., Legislative Director & Counsel, New York City Council; and Dr. Amy Traver, Professor of Sociology and Education, Queensborough Community College.

Program 7. Echoes of Exile
Held on April 20, 2017

Musical testimonies of resistance, remembrance, and exile, featuring QCC music faculty, Ensemble 365, and the QCC Jazz Ensemble.

Program 8. A Common Thread of Uncommon Courage, Part II: Girlhood, Displacement, and Resistance During the Japanese Occupation
Held on May 3, 2017

Dr. Kathleen Tamayo Alves, Associate Professor of English at Queensborough Community College, addresses displacement, victimhood, survival, and resistance through the girlhood narratives of her family’s flight from persecution during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, supplying the historical and cultural context of World War II in Asia. This program will immediately be followed by a student and faculty roundtable discussion featuring QCC faculty members Dr. Aliza Atik, Associate Professor of English; Dr. Benjamin Miller, Associate Professor of English; and Prof. Alisa Cercone, Lecturer of English.