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College of Extended Learning

About the panelists

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Antoine Cassar, Independent Poet and Activist, Qrendi, Malta

Title: The anti-passport. Ten years of creative no-border activism


Antoine Cassar is a Maltese poet, translator, editor and migrants’ rights community organizer. In 2008 he represented Malta at the Biennale des Jeunes Créateurs de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée in Bari, Italy, where he recited his poetry with Nabil Salameh of the Italo-Palestinian musical band Radiodervish. His most important work of poetry, Passport (2009), has been published in several languages and disseminated in Europe, Asia and North America. Cassar’s latest publication, Map of the Mediterranean (Ghaqda tal-Malti, 2013), describes the shapes of the Mediterranean Sea in relation to the history of its peoples and contemporary forms of migration.


Cassar will reflect on and describe his decade-long campaign in support of refugee issues. Written in 2009, after a micro-humiliation at the Peru-Bolivia border, “Passport” is a long poem in Maltese, printed in the form of an “anti-passport” and intended for all peoples and all imaginable landscapes. It has been published in 11 languages and adapted for stage by five different theatre companies across Europe. It has also served as a creative prop for collaborations with grassroots groups campaigning for refugee rights and universal freedom of movement, including solidarity concerts outside detention centres in Luxembourg and Lampedusa, as well as street theatre protests in Valletta. Proceeds from the sale of the booklet are donated to activist groups supporting refugees in local communities. The poem is also used for creative writing workshops, in which refugees compose their own “mini-passport” based on their own itinerant experiences.

Olga Lafazani, University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece

Title: Organizing everyday life in City Plaza, Athens


Olga Lafazani’s work on borders and boundaries, migration, urban space and everyday life, is closely connected with her participation in grassroots antiracist groups and networks. Her PhD thesis, on “Transnational Geographies of Migration,” was defended at the Harokopio University Athens. Most recently, she has been involved in the organizing efforts of the City Plaza, a squatted hotel in the centre of Athens that provides shelter for refugees. She is an adjunct lecturer in Migration in the Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology at the University of Thessaly, and has participated in numerous research projects on migration, gender, economies and urban space at various European universities. Her work has been published in several academic journals and edited volumes.


City Plaza was an eight-floor hotel in the centre of Athens. It was occupied on April 22, 2016 in the midst of what was termed a “refugee crisis.” The aim was twofold: on the one hand, to provide housing in decent conditions in the centre of the city for hundreds of migrants who were homeless or living in camps under very difficult circumstances; on the other hand, to create a community of struggle and resistance to the dominant border and migration policies, and to fight for freedom of movement and the right to settle. The process of organizing everyday life in City Plaza is based on the principles of self-organization and the participation of everyone. However, when the project accommodates about 400 people from 10 different nationalities who have totally different experiences in terms of class, gender, religion, social and political background, and most of them are in transit, things get complicated. In this presentation Lafazani will discuss the ways occupants coped with these differences and the ways they failed, the multiple ways people understand collective action and participation, and the multiple ways in which different forms of power interact in everyday life. In opposition to romanticized readings of social movements, City Plaza is not – nor could it be – an “island of freedom and equality” within the wider relations of exploitation, repression, racism and antagonism towards the oppressed. It is, however, a place where strong collective social and political experiences are produced, where self-organization and cooperation are manufactured – for a short time or for a while longer.

Behzad Khosravi Noori, Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm, Sweden

Title: What happens to art when it crosses the border?


Behzad Khosravi Noori is an artist-researcher based in Stockholm, Sweden, and Tehran, Iran. Khosravi graduated from Tarbiat Modares University in Tehran, with a Masters in Motion Picture. He has been involved in research and teaching in the history and theory of art in different art schools in Iran. In 2011, he received his second Masters degree at Konstfack University College of Art and Design in Stockholm, where he is now a PhD candidate. His work focuses on multiple identities within the discourse of European multiculturalism and hyperpoliticized socio-political environments. It complements the exhibit, especially by using film to investigate how visual elements create stories within hyperpoliticized spaces and representations of insider/outsider subjects in multicultural societies.


This presentation will explore the resemblances constructed around the practice of contemporary art, subalternity and itinerancy to critically investigate and narrate the notion of a “subject” beyond the political dichotomy of war and its hyperpoliticized structural condition(s). It investigates the political and social agency of the itinerant and the act of itinerancy in relation to cultural diversity. It further explores the political links between interconnected geopolitical locations in order to ask important questions: What is the future of our collective past? What happens to art when it crosses borders? The critical representation of the other and of othering within current political climates constitutes the main focus of this presentation.

Audrey Macklin, University of Toronto, Canada

Title: Choosing to Refuse


Audrey Macklin is the Director of the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies and Professor of Law and Chair in Human Rights at University of Toronto. Professor Macklin is a world-famous scholar researching transnational migration, citizenship, forced migration and human rights. She has published on these subjects in journals such as Refuge, Canadian Woman Studies and in collections of essays such as The Security of Freedom: Essays on Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Bill and Engendering Forced Migration.


his presentation will probe the difference between asylum seekers and resettled refugees through the concept of sovereignty as choice. The most important distinction, from the perspective of the state, is not whether those who arrive as asylum seekers are more or less likely to meet the definition of refugee than those referred for resettlement; it is rather that states can vindicate their sovereign prerogative through the discretionary exercise of selecting refugees for resettlement, whereas asylum seekers make a claim of entitlement to enter if they meet the definition of refugee. This apparent contrast is misleading, however, because states choose to receive asylum seekers by voluntarily signing the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. However, the tenacity of this illusion is revealed through state practice – including agreements between Australia and the United States to “swap” refugees, and the EU-Turkey agreement that purports to resettle Syrian refugees in Turkey in exchange for the expulsion of Syrian asylum-seekers from EU territory.

Anwar Nilufary, Athens, Greece

Title: The story of Anwar Nilufary


Anwar Nilufary is a Kurdish refugee born in Iran. He settled in Iraq for a few years, later transited through Turkey, and arrived on the Greek shores in the fall of 2014. He received asylum in Greece, but tried to enter Sweden in 2015. He was deported back to Greece, even though at that time the Dublin agreement, which binds asylum claims to the state of entry, was deferred and the European borders were in fact open. Following his deportation, Nilufary requested resettlement in another country, specifically Canada or the US. His claim was not supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the sole agency that can officially refer refugees for resettlement in other nations.


Anwar Nilufary will recount his itinerant story. Anwar has been a stateless person in exile for over 13 years and a Recognized Refugee in Greece for over four years, a country where he does not want to be. He has been subjected to multiple arrests for protesting on the steps of the UNHCR building in Athens. In 2017 he carried out a two-month-long hunger strike at the UNHCR office. He has been camping at the site ever since, though his tent is removed by the police on a regular basis. Nilufary will provide a detailed account of his last four years in Greece. He is featured in the documentary film screened at the UNB Art Centre West Gallery. His story provides a factual account of some of the struggles faced by refugees in Greece.

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