Migration or Escape: Journeys to Sanctuary

February 11, 2016

Phinder Dulai, Cecily Nicholson, Dr. Renisa Mawani, Dr. Minelle Mahtani, & Melanie Hardbattle

Thursday, February 11, 7:00PM–9:00PM, Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 W. Hastings St.

Co-presented by SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement

Event is FREE but registration is required

Migration or Escape: Journeys to Sanctuary is an evening conversation, including a set of readings and talks, that will explore the emergent areas of creative work around migration that are grounded in archival materialism. Drawing from various archives, artists and scholars are generating emerging theoretical spaces that ask critical questions on the global movements of subjects within the context of new Imperialisms, nationalist violence, and continuing global economic interests. These trajectories of movement, whether migrating subjects are escaping civil war, wars of aggression, racial and ethno-cultural genocidal pograms, or escaping to find better ways of life and work, are embedded within global capitalism and imperial formations. 

To address these themes, Migration or Escape: Journeys to Sanctuary is a conversation that interweaves scholarship, creative writing practice, and literary studies within a growing field that explores the contemporary moment and its links to the past through poetic and scholarly engagements as sites for contesting nationalisms and refracting the past into contemporary frames.


Phinder Dulai - Phinder Dulai’s critically acclaimed poetry collection dream / arteries (Talonbooks) was published in 2014. He is the author of two previous books of poetry. Dulai was this year’s co-convener of Sound Thinking 2015 Voicing the City In/verse: Reading Surrey and the Super-Suburb. He recently collaborated on a sound installation called The Grove – A Spatial Narrative with artists Carmen Papalia and Andrew Lee for the Surrey Art Gallery. His most recent work has been published in Canada and Beyond, Canadian Literature and Cue Books Anthology and new poems forthcoming in e-magazine Dusie. He is currently touring dream / arteries and has given talks and readings locally, Kelowna, Calgary, as well as in the U.S. in Dallas and Austin, Texas. His next series of readings from dream / arteries are scheduled this Winter at the University of Toronto, University of Western Ontario and the American Writers Workshop in New York City. Dulai is a co-founder of the Surrey-based interdisciplinary contemporary arts group The South of Fraser Inter Arts Collective (SOFIA/c).

Cecily Nicholson - Cecily Nicholson is administrator of the artist-run centre, Gallery Gachet, and has worked since 2000 in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood of Vancouver, Xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Səl̓ílwətaʔ territories. She is the author of Triage (2011) and From the Poplars (2014), winner of the 2015 Dorothy Livesay prize for poetry.

Dr. Renisa Mawani - Renisa Mawani (PhD, University of Toronto) is an Associate Professor of Sociology and inaugural Chair of the Law and Society Program at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Mawani works in the fields of critical theory and colonial legal history and has published widely on law, colonialism, and legal geography. Her first book, Colonial Proximities (2009) details the legal encounters between indigenous peoples, Chinese migrants, “mixed-race” populations, and Europeans in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century British Columbia. Her second book, Across Oceans of Law (under contract with Duke University Press), is a global and maritime legal history of the Japanese ship, Komagata Maru. The book draws on oceans as method to trace the ship’s 1914 route across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, to advance the argument that legal forms of colonial and racial violence are deeply entangled, and to consider time as a critical register of empire. With Iza Hussin, she is co-editor of “The Travels of Law: Indian Ocean Itineraries” published in Law and History Review (2014). In 2015, she received the Killam Prize for Graduate Instruction, a Dean of Arts Faculty Research Award, and was named a Wall Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.

Dr. Minelle Mahtani – Dr. Minelle Mahtani University of Toronto (Scarborough) Associate Professor & Host of Radio Roundhouse's Sense of Place - Cultural Geographer and Author. She is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Geography and the Program in Journalism, University of Toronto, Scarborough. She is the co-editor of the book, “Mixed Race Amnesia: Resisting the Romantisization of Multiraciality in Canada” (UBC Press). Dr. Mahtani is the Past President of the Associatin of Canadian Studies, and former Chair of Mteropolis –Ontario (CERIS-Centre for Excellence on Immigration and Settlement). She is the 2012 Winner of the Glenda Laws Award from the Association of American Geographers for outstanding contributions to geography and social policy, and a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal Award winner. Dr. Mahtani is a former television news journalist with the CBC and has consulted with a variety of organizations on diversity and journalism, including Citizenship Immigration Canada, Ministry of Multiculturalism and Integration, among other groups. She is the former strategic counsel for the not-for-profit IMPACS (Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society).

Melanie Hardbattle - Melanie Hardbattle is the Archivist for Simon Fraser University Library’s Special Collections and Rare Books division. Graduating with a Master of Archival Studies degree from UBC in 2000, she has worked at the SFU Library since 2009, during which time she has served as the project coordinator for several digitization and community engagement projects, including the Multicultural Canada and Komagata Maru: Continuing the Journey websites and, most recently, SFU’s commemorative event for the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Komagata Maru in Vancouver. Much of Melanie’s work at SFU Special Collections has involved the preservation and making accessible of the documentary record of groups not traditionally represented in the archival record.

Moderated by David Chariandy, Associate Professor in SFU’s Department of English, David specializes in contemporary fiction, (especially Canadian, Caribbean, and Black Atlantic), as well as interdisciplinary theories of postcoloniality, diaspora and ‘race.’  His novel entitled Soucouyant was published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2007, and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award, and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Best First Novel Prize. His creative and critical writings are featured in a special section of the 30.3 (Summer 2007) 30th anniversary issue of Callaloo, the international journal of African diaspora arts and letters; and his second novel, entitled Brother, is forthcoming from McClelland and Stewart.