Journeys Festival International: Reckoning with Refugeedom



At a public event on 21 August 2018 at the University of Leicester, Professor Peter Gatrell and Kasia Nowak, from the University of Manchester, discussed their collaborative three-year Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project “Reckoning with refugeedom: refugee voices in modern history, 1919 to 1975.”

The project, which began in July 2018, explores the testimonies of refugees in different moments and sites of displacement, including pre-1939 and post-1945 Europe, and South Asia between 1947 and 1971. It pays particular attention to how refugees communicated with officials and others in positions of authority, and with what consequences.

The event was part of Journeys Festival International which aims to bring the talents of local, national and international refugee artists to the general public, creating a positive interface with the community. The festival takes place annually in the cities of Leicester, Manchester and Portsmouth. It explores the refugee experience through a whole range of free arts activities including live music, hands-on artist-led workshops, theatre, performance, film, discussion, exhibitions, storytelling, pop-up events and more.

Participants were delighted by the world premiere of a film The Little Whale on the Beach produced, written and directed by Parang Khezri and a team including asylum seekers and refugees.

Peter Kasia Parang

The event formed part of Leicester’s wider initiative to be recognised as a University of Sanctuary, a place of welcome for refugees and asylum seekers. Pascale Roussel from the University of Sanctuary steering group said, “This was an important event – I think we don’t talk enough about parallels with history and how Europeans also sought refuge. I thought Parang’s film was very touching, and the inclusion of a child’s perspective drew attention to our common needs and dreams. There is a strong likelihood that Parang will be joining our Presessional English programme in the next few months, so hopefully it will help her in her journey towards becoming a film maker.”

For more information on Leicester University of Sanctuary visit

Professor Surinder Sharma, Co-Director of DICE said: “DICE were delighted to host this talk at the University of Leicester as part of Journeys Festival International, in celebration of the positive contribution refugees continue to make locally in our city, and globally. Participants at a recent DICE event with Baroness Sayeeda Warsi told us they wanted more opportunities to discuss these vital contemporary and historic issues.”

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