Introduction: Life Writing through Refugee Tales
Keywords:(auto-)biographical narrative, life writing, displaced persons, refugees
This cluster took off from an interdisciplinary and international workshop hosted at the University of Vienna in May 2022. Some of the original contributors turned their presentations into articles for this cluster; other articles were recruited later on. The original idea for both the workshop and cluster was inspired by the UK’s Refugee Tales project, founded and organized by David Herd and Anna Pincus. Some of the articles collected here discuss the life writing aspect of this project from different angles and positions: Patience Agbabi as contributing author to the first Refugee Tales volume, Sandra Mayer as a scholar of literary celebrity, and Sylvia Mieszkowski as cultural analyst. Other articles take a look at other projects in which displaced persons work on life narratives alongside citizens of the host countries: Jessica Gustafsson writes about the Swedish Flyktpodden podcast and Helga Ramsey-Kurz about the Austrian ARENA initiative. Two articles provide the collection with an opening frame, as they focus on the paradoxes that are perpetually produced by immigration law and the cultural conceptions of ‘the refugee’ in the European context (Judith Kohlenberger) and in Austria, specifically for minors (Ayşe Dursun and Birgit Sauer). An Afterword by one of the founders and organizers of Refugee Tales (David Herd) closes the cluster, offering an assessment of the project’s role in the context of the UK’s political situation in the summer of 2023, just after both Houses of Parliament passed the Illegal Migration Bill, which the UN has publicly denounced as contrary to international law.
Copyright (c) 2023 Sandra Mayer, Sylvia Mieszkowski, Kevin Potter
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