Aarhus Universitets segl

Creative approaches to migration: Literary texts as ethnographic method

The seminar is organized by MIAU – Centre for Migration and Integration research, Aarhus University and funded by The Danish Institute in Damascus.

Oplysninger om arrangementet


Fredag 8. december 2023,  kl. 12:15 - 17:30


DPU (AU) - D120

Abstract - Can words enable us to recreate lived lives, experiences of suffering or distress, and aspirations dreamed of in the past and encounters with unprecedented realities? What do words depict when vulnerable individuals [refugees??] express their experiences, feelings and aspirations through other means of expressions beyond everyday dialogues, such as poetry, prose, and drama? What are the advantages and challenges with creative methods as a mode of ethnography, and what do these modes reflect in studying migration? This seminar aims to study the case of Afghan refugees and diasporic groups and concentrates through creative methods on the aspirations of life, bonds of belonging, illusions and disillusions pertaining to the situation of migration in relation to Afghanistan and to the global forces dealing with Afghanistan before and after the Taliban seized the power in the country.

Afghan culture has historically benefited from art, in general, and literary genre, in particular, to voice people’s distress and aspirations due to decades of war and political turmoil before, during and after multiple ideological power transitions. Fiction and poetry have been mainly the prime avenue for ordinary people and intellectuals to express what they had on their mind in everyday life. New means of art have also added to the capacities of expressing the self—particularly, through migration paths. Additionally, these means of expression are advantageous when saying one’s words is rather complicated and the person/locutor needs to go beyond cultural or political boundaries, heal the wounds of the soul, and speak out with less clarity that might attract the direct attention of the holders of power. In this sense, creative means as such teach us about people’s inner voice. In addition to this aspect, these creative expressions present opportunities for the refugees to form and celebrate their togetherness around shared cultural trends.  

Finally, this seminar aims at generating a prospective network for creative engagement with migration.

Time schedule

11:30 – 12:30                     Lunch

12:30 – 12:45                     Welcome & Introduction by MIAU hosts

12:45 – 14:15                     Block I

12:45 – 13:15                     Helle Bundgaard | Ethnographic writing and the role of imagination

13:15 – 13:45                     Zuzanna Olszewska | More Information will be provided later.

13:45 – 14:15                     Liza Schuster | The Uses of Poetry: Migration in Afghan Verse

14:15 – 14:45  Belgheis Jafari Alavi | WALL INSCRIPTIONS OF MIGRANTS: Resistance against forgetting and loss

14:45 – 15:00                     Break           

15:00 – 16:30                     Block II

15:00 – 15:30  Khadijah Abbassi | Rap music and transnational young Afghan refugees in Europe

15:30 – 16:00  Julie Nynne Bune | Navigating friction through fiction: Young Afghan refugees in Denmark performing fictionalized futures and haunted pasts

16:00 – 16:30  Narges Ghandchi | Fiction as a lens to learn about Afghan people on the move

16:30 – 16:40                     Break

16:40 – 17:30                     Discussion | Trine Brinkmann (University College Copenhagen | KP)


The seminar is organized by MIAU – Centre for Migration and Integration research, Aarhus University and funded by The Danish Institute in Damascus.

Please sign up for the seminar, by sending an email to Narges Ghandchi, ng@cas.au.dk