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


“Fleeing Genocide: Displacement, Exile and the Refugee” was organized as the 2016-2017 colloquia series by Drs. Aliza Atik, Kathleen Alves and Mirna Lekic of Queensborough Community College, CUNY. The Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives colloquia series, initiated in the 2012 – 2013 academic year, is supported by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant. 
This program was made possible thanks to the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this web resource do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.​

Fleeing Genocide: Displacement, Exile, and the Refugee

Fleeing Genocide: Displacement, Exile, and the Refugee is a Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives (KHRCA) colloquia series comprising of eight events, which puts the past in conversation with the present by exploring the history of genocide and refugees. Its intent is to move our students and community past abstract compassion, into an investigation of the reality of genocide and the trauma of displacement. 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.

KHC/NEH Colloquium 2016 - 2017 Public Programming Recordings

List of Programs

Program 1. Refuge Denied: St. Louis Passengers and the Holocaust

Wednesday, September 21, 2016, 12:20 – 1:50, KHRCA

Scott Miller, Author and Director of Curatorial Affairs at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Dr. Susan Jacobowitz, Associate Professor of English, Queensborough Community College

Description: Scott Miller, Director of Curatorial Affairs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 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. “The Jacket” Exhibit

October 5, 2016, KHRCA

Dr. Cary Lane, Department of Academic Literacy, Queensborough Community College

Description: The exhibit centers around the stories of a very special artifact donated to the KHRCA: 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

Wednesday, November 16, 2016, 12:20-1:50, KHRCA

Sara Rowbottom, Education and Learning Manager at the International Rescue Committee

Dr. Kathleen Landy, Director of CETL, Queensborough Community College

Description: Sara Rowbottom, Education and Learning Manager 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

Wednesday, December 7, 2016, 12:20-1:50, KHRCA

Stefan Feller, Director at United Nations

Dr. Beth Counihan, Associate Professor of English. 

Description: Lieutenant General Stefan Feller, currently the Police Adviser to the United Nations who serves as a Director in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, discusses crises which 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.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 12:20-1:50, KHRCA

Jacqueline Murekatete, Genocide Prevention and Human Rights Activist

Dr. Trevor Milton, Assistant Professor of Social Science, Queesnborough Community College

Description: Jacqueline Murekatete, founder of the Genocide Survivors Foundation speaks about her own experiences as a victim of the Rwandan genocide.

Program 6. The LGBTQ Refugee Crisis

Friday, March 24, 2017, 12:20-1:50, KHRCA

Daniel Dromm, New York City Councilman

Dr. Amy Traver, Associate Professor of Sociology and Education, Queensborough Community College

Pamela Denzer​ Client Programs Director at Immigration Equality

Sebastian Maguire, Esq., Legislative Director & Counsel, The New York City Council 

Description: Through personal stories of LGBTQ refugees and those who advocate for them, this program led by Councilman Dromm, examines the challenges facing LGBTQ populations as they flee from brutality and oppression, and navigate the complicated world of exile.

Program 7. Echoes of Exile

Thursday, April 20, 2017, 7pm, QPAC

DescriptionMusical 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

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 12:10-2:00, KHRCA

Dr. Kathleen Tamayo Alves, Assistant Professor of English, Queensborough Community College

Dr. Aliza Atik, Assistant Professor of English, Queensborough Community College

Dr. Benjamin Miller, Assistant Professor of English, Queensborough Community College

Prof. Alisa Cercone, Lecturer of English, Queensborough Community College

Description: Dr. Kathleen Tamayo Alves 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 diacussion.