Refugee Tales 2016

Being Detained Indefinitely: A Day of Thought, Performance and Action, 3 July

The first Refugee Tales took place in June 2015, walking in solidarity with Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Immigration Detainees, from Dover to Crawley along the North Downs Way.  As the project walked it reclaimed the landscape of South East England for the language of welcome, and everywhere it stopped it was met with hospitality and enthusiasm. Working directly in collaboration with those who have experienced the UK immigration and asylum system, and taking Chaucer’s great poem of journeying as a model, established writers told a series of tales en route. Through that sharing of other people’s tales the project gathered and communicated experiences of migration, aiming to show, in particular, what indefinite detention means.

From 3-8 July 2016, Refugee Tales will walk again. Starting with a forum at the University of Kent, Being Detained Indefinitely: A Day of Thought, Performance and Action on Sunday 3 July. The UK is the only country in Europe to operate a policy of indefinite immigration detention, a practice that does untold damage to tens of thousands of lives. The purpose of the day will be to seek to understand what it means to be and to have been indefinitely detained; to explore how the issue of detention touches on wider human themes; and to work out how the practice of indefinite detention can be brought to an end. People who have experienced indefinite immigration detention in the UK will be joined by support workers, campaigners, writers, academics, theorists, students, journalists and policy makers. Through a series of talks, lectures, discussions and performances the day will explore the human and political implications of this unsustainable practice, and will show how the act of story telling and listening to stories is crucial to a change of view. We are looking to reach as wide an audience as possible and in particular we are seeking to influence opinion formers. Confirmed speakers and chairs so far include our patron, Ali Smith, Shami Chakrabarti, Marina Warner, Mary Bosworth, Nick Gill, Marie-Benedicte Dembour, Jerome Phelps and Abdulrazak Gurnah. We can promise a highly stimulating day of thought and performance leading to action and we very hope much hope you can join the debate.

The walk will leave Canterbury on 4 July, moving north to Gravesend and then along the Thames into central London, calling once again for the practice of indefinite immigration detention to end. As the project walks it will create a space in which the language of welcome is the prevailing discourse, a political carnival in which the act of listening is a common resource. Booking for Refugee Tales is now open.

If you have any questions about Refugee Tales please email Anna at