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The images of the body of Aylan Kurdi, who drowned off the coast of Turkey, have shaped global perceptions of refugees and refugee policy in Europe. This is a recording of a symposium which sought to encourage more sustained reflection on the nature and meaning of these images and the ethics and the politics of their use. How do we balance the emotions that the images evoke with our drive for sober and critical analysis? Can we establish a position on the subject that in some way does justice to the boy’s life, his family members and all those affected by the consistent failure to provide a humanitarian solution for refugees in Europe? The discussion, held at the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies at the University of Amsterdam aimed to provide staff and students with – not a definitive analysis – but some ways of charting their path through the questions at hand.

Speakers: Sébastien Chauvin, Polly Pallister-Wilkins, Darshan Vigneswaran, Hernan del Valle, and Saskia Bonjour—not present, but with a textual contribution below: Amade M’charek

Written Contributions

Polly Pallister-Wilkins, Invoking the Child as a Totemic Image

Amade M'Charek, Vulnerabilities and Invulnerabilities/Absences and Presences

Saskia Bonjour, A Migration Scholar's Responsibility