Rachel Rye Convergence

A great abstract for an upcoming must see talk by Rachel (jan 2013, goldsmiths – stay tuned), posted (with permission) because it sums up some of the best that CCS does. The sort of thing that also was described here.

In February 2012 No Borders London, along with students and academics, held a week-long Convergence at Goldsmiths. The aim was to share knowledge and experiences relating to trans-national migrant and activist struggles against the border regime. Numerous discussions by activists, academics, migrants rights groups and organisations took place, direct actions occurred simultaneously at various sites away from the Convergence, films were screened, stories were told, food was cooked, childcare was provided, plans were made, friendships and alliances were formed, debates, disagreements and grievances were aired. My proposal is to present for discussion some reflections on what happened when No Borders converged within the academic space of the university. These reflections are based on my own close involvement as an organiser throughout both the planning stages and the actual week of events. I will consider the event in relation to previous border camps to highlight both the advantages and disadvantages of staging such a meeting at a university campus.

The 2012 No Borders Convergence offered a valuable opportunity to examine the challenges of bringing scholars and militant activists together within the institutional space of the university. As an event, the Convergence attempted and – to some extent – succeeded in creating a productive clash of activist struggles with critical academic scholarly research. In my presentation I will argue that a one-off event is not enough to bridge divides across research and activist practice and that the challenge now is to discuss how, when and where to stage the next Convergence-style event. How might it be possible to bring scholars, activists, migrants, humanitarian and charity workers together into productive connection again? Should such events be a priority in other institutions where researchers are working on the issue of migration and migrant activism? Is there really such a divide between the militant activist and the academic, or are many in No Borders in fact more closely connected to academic research than it might first appear? What does it mean to assume the ‘activist identity’ and how can this role be usefully problematised?

Rachel Rye

PhD student, Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths

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