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The Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement




Discussions about migration frequently spotlight ostensibly sudden ‘crises’ across global frontiers. Yet this focus often obscures that patterns of human movement and their control are profoundly shaped histories of colonialism and systems of racial oppression. A mere presentist perspective not only risks masking these deeper historical and structural forces but also limits our capacity to envision other possible futures. This conference aims to re-examine migration and borders through a dual temporal lens: one that acknowledges colonialism, racial capitalism, and migration’s intertwined histories, and one that centers the forward-looking aspirations of migrant and racial justice movements. It seeks to explore migration systems beyond disciplinary confines, highlighting the contributions of diasporic communities and scholars in envisioning liberated worlds. The goal is to shed light on the colonial and racial roots of current ‘migration crises’ and their governance, while encouraging a broad dialogue that spans theory, method, and artistic expression toward new hopeful geographies.

By connecting discussions on racial capitalism, empire, and colonial legacies with contemporary bordering tactics and practices of displacement, the conference intends to enhance understanding of the persistent violence affecting global human movement. Crucially, it also counters the predominant deficit narratives surrounding displaced and oppressed communities, highlighting instead survivance, vitality, and intergenerational justice through creative-activist solidarity and abolitionist worldbuilding. The conference aims to nurture interdisciplinary dialogues by blending research and practice, advocating for an approach to knowledge beyond binary perspectives, as speakers often occupy multiple identities as scholar-activists, refugee authors, artivists, and global majority academics. It will feature diverse formats—lectures, panels, poetry, workshops, discussions, and films—questioning established knowledge hierarchies and exploring how diverse, creative and utopian epistemologies can advance our grasp of racial capitalism, coloniality, and migrant justice.


Lead Convenor

  •  Danai Avgeri (ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Geography)


  • Awa Farah (PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology) 
  • Dita N. Love (Junior Research Fellow in Education, Homerton College, and CDH Associate)
  • Beja Protner (PhD Candidate, Department of Social Anthropology)


  • Hassan Akkad (Writer, filmmaker and human rights activist, London)
  • Carolina Alonso Bejanaro (Scholar-Activist, Cartoonist, DJ, Associate Professor of Law, University of Warwick)
  • Gracie Mae Bradley (Writer, Campaigner, London)
  • Gargi Bhattacharrya (Professor of Anti/Post/Decolonial Theory and Praxis, University Arts London (UEL))
  • Nadine El-Enany (Professor of Law, University of Kent)
  • Fatima El-Tayeb (Professor of Ethnicity, Race, and Migration, and of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Yale University)
  • Diana Damian Martin (Co-Founder & Researcher, Migrants in Culture Organisation)
  • Ida Danewid (University of Sussex)
  • Joon-Lynn Goh (Co-Founding Director & Organiser, Migrants in Culture Organisation)
  • Farah Jirdeh-Fonkenell (Director of Almas Art Foundation)
  • Bhanu Kapil (Poet and Fellow, Churchill College, University of Cambridge)
  • Momtaza Mehri (Poet-in-Residence, Homerton College, University of Cambridge. Columnist for Tate. Etc Magazine)
  • Lola Olufemi (Writer, researcher and organiser, London)
  • Harsha Walia (Writer, activist, educator, Vancouver)


15 May I 16.00 - 17:30

Inaugural Conference Opening 

Venue: St Johns College, Divinity School, Main Lecture Theatre
Alfred Dubs Lecture: Race, Corporate “Sovereigns” and Corporate Borders 

Speaker: Tendayi E Achiume (Alicia Miñana Professor of Law, UCLA)

Discussant: Vasuki Nesiah (Professor of Practice, New York University, Gallatin School)

Chair: Tugba Basaran (Director of the Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement, University of Cambridge).

16 May

Venue: Alison Richard Building

9:30 - 10:00


10:00 - 10:15

Introductory Comments:

Danai Avgeri (University of Cambridge)

10:15 - 11:30

Keynote lecture and Q+A:

‘Transformative archives and queer spacetime’
Speaker: Fatima El-Tayeb (Professor of Ethnicity, Race, and Migration, and of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Yale University)

Moderator: Safet HadžiMuhamedović (University of Cambridge)

11:30 - 11:45


11:45 - 13:00

Creative inheritances and healing collective traumas


  • Bhanu Kapil (poet, Churchill College Fellow, University of Cambridge)
  • Momtaza Mehri (Poet in Residence, Homerton College, University of Cambridge)
  • Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa (choreopoet and researcher, University of Leeds)

Moderator: Dita N Love (University of Cambridge) & Lina Fadel (Heriot-Watt University)

13:00 - 14:00


14:00 - 15:15

Collective theatre and Anti-colonial ethnography

Carolina Alonso-Bejarano (scholar-activist, cartoonist, DJ, Associate Professor of Law, University of Warwick)

15:15 - 15:30


15:30 - 17:00

‘A new decolonial cinematic language’

Speakers: Farah Jirdeh-Fonkenell (Director, Almas Art Foundation) and more TBC

Moderator: Awa Farah, (University of Cambridge).

17 May

Venue: Alison Richard Building

10:00 - 11:15

Panel discussion:
(De)bordering Palestine

Speaker: Rafeef Ziadah (Senior Lecturer in Politics and Public Policy, King’s College London)

Moderator: Kareem Estefan (University of Cambridge)

11:15 - 11:30


11:30 - 12:45

Racial capitalism, empire and geographies of border (un)making


  • Gargi Bhattacharya (Professor of Anti/Post/Decolonial Theory and Praxis, University Arts London)
  • Ida Danewid (Senior Lecturer in Lecturer in Gender and Global Political Economy, University of Sussex)
  • Nadine El-Enany (Professor of Law, University of Kent)

Moderator: Ali Meghji (University of Cambridge)

12:45 - 13:45


13:45 - 15:15

Migrants in culture workshop:
Writing ourselves into the future: abolition and creative organising

  • Joon-Lynn Goh (Co-Founding Director & Organiser, Migrants in Culture)
  • Diana Damian Martin (Co-Founder & Researcher, Migrants in Culture)
15:15 - 15:30


15:30 - 17:00

Keynote discussion:

Abolition, borders and migrant justice

In conversation:

  • Harsha Walia (writer, activist, and educator, Vancouver)
  • Gracie Mae Bradley (writer, campaigner, Glasgow)
  • Adam Elliott-Cooper (Lecturer in Public and Social Policy, Queen Mary University of London)

Moderator and discussant: Lola Olufemi (writer, researcher, organiser, London)


Carolina Alonso Bejarano is a scholar-activist, cartoonist and DJ teaching Law at the University of Warwick. Her research interests lie at the intersection of race, gender, art and the law. Carolina has published texts and comics in journals, books and magazines in Colombia, the UK, and the US, and she has produced numerous multimedia events on activism and community organizing. Notably, along with her fellow New Jersey immigrants’ rights activists, in 2015 Carolina wrote, produced and performed the play Undocumented/Unafraid about the rights of undocumented immigrants in the US. Her debut book, Decolonizing Ethnography: Undocumented Immigrants and New Directions in Social Science (2019, Duke University Press), was written with her field collaborators, women community organizers in New Jersey, about the liberatory possibilities of ethnographic research.

Gargi Bhattacharyya is a Professor of Anti/Post/Decolonial Theory and Praxis at the University Arts London.Their  work focuses on questions of systemic inequality and injustice and processes of imagination and collaboration that seek to navigate, bypass and overturn such structures. They have authored a number of books, including: Tales of dark-skinned women (1998); Sexuality and Society (2002); Dangerous Brown Men (2008); Traffick (2005); Crisis, Austerity and Everyday Life (2015); Rethinking Racial Capitalism (2018); We, the heartbroken (2023); The Futures of Racial Capitalism (2023). They have also co-authored books with colleagues, including: Race and Power (2001); Go Home? Mapping Immigration Controversy (2017); How media and conflicts make migrants (2020); Empire’s Endgame (2021). They have appeared in a range of podcasts and previously convened an online series ‘Who’s afraid of anticapitalism?’ with the Left Book Club. Gargi is also the co-editor of the Pluto short book series, Fireworks. 

Gracie Mae Bradley is a thinker, writer and campaigner with interests in civil liberties, migration, surveillance, and state racism. She co-founded the Against Borders for Children campaign, led policy and strategy for many years at the pressure group Liberty, and most recently acted as Chief Coordinator of the groundbreaking Grenfell Testimony Week.  She is the host of the Stuart Hall Foundation’s Locating Legacies podcast, co-author of Against Borders, and author of From Grenfell to Windrush which appears in “After Grenfell: Violence, Resistance and Response” (Pluto Press, 2019). Her political writing has appeared in The Guardian, OpenDemocracy, The Independent, Vice, and many more publications. Her first short story, Peacetime, was published by Salvage Magazine #13 (2022), and her poem Unlawful Gathering appears in When This Is Over: Reflections on an Unequal Pandemic (Policy Press, 2023). Gracie is a keen swimmer and forager in her spare time.

Diana Damian Martin is a Romanian-born academic, educator and artist working with performance as a practice and critical lens. Her research focuses on borders, border abolition and migrant performance; interventionist and radical performance practice; and the relation between cultural, linguistic and aesthetic politics. She is interested in peripheral politics in relation to neo-colonial regimes of power between West and East Europe, and in the intersection of postsocialist, decolonial and anti-colonial practices in ‘peripheries’ of Europe, with specific focus on region of Eastern Europe and its diasporic dramaturgies. She also researches alternative practices of criticism, exploring feminist and queer modes of exchange and their relation to discursive and political structures and regimes of power. She studied performance making here at Central before moving on to complete a Masters in sociology of theatre and performance at Goldsmiths College and was a Royal Holloway and Bedford Excellent scholar at Royal Holloway, University of London where she completed her doctoral project. Criticism as Political Event (monograph forthcoming) examines experimental practices of criticism through the lens of radical feminist and democratic political theory. She edits Performance Philosophy Journal’s section for nonconforming writing, Margins, and sits on the editorial boards of Critical Stages and Journal for Body, Space and Technology. She co-convenes the Documenting Performance Working Group for the Theatre and Performance Research Association.

Ida Danewid is a Lecturer in Gender and Global Political Economy at the Department of International Relations at the University of Sussex. Her research interests are in anti-colonial political thought, the black radical tradition, gender studies, and histories of internationalism “from below.” At Sussex, she convenes the modules “Policing Racial Capitalism”, “Race, Gender, and Global Capitalism”, and “Introduction to International Political Economy.” Her work examines the historical and evolving relation between capitalism, state violence, and the production of raced, sexed, and geographical differences. She is the co-editor of “The Black Mediterranean” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021) and the special issue “Racialized Realities in World Politics” (Millennium: Journal of International Studies, vol. 45, no.3). Her first book, “Resisting Racial Capitalism: An Antipolitical Theory of Refusal” (Cambridge University Press, 2023), explores the role of state power in the making of racial capitalism.

Adam Elliott-Cooper is a lecturer in the school of politics and IR, Queen Mary University of London. He is author of Black Resistance to British Policing (MUP, 2021) and coauthor of Empire’s Endgame: Racism and the British State (Pluto Press, 2021). He sits on the board of The Monitoring Group.

Nadine El-Enany is a Professor of Law at the University of Kent. She teaches and researches in the fields of migration law, EU law, protest and racial state violence. Her current research projects focus on race and justice in death in custody cases, and the role of law in addressing health inequalities arising from environmental harm. She is the recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Prize. Her book (B)ordering Britain: Law, race and empire (2020) is published by Manchester University Press and was awarded the Socio-Legal Studies Association Socio-Legal Theory and History Prize in 2021. Her writing has appeared in various media outlets, including the Guardian, LRB Blog, Verso Blog, MAP Magazine, Truthout, New Humanist, Open Democracy and Critical Legal Thinking.

Fatima El-Tayeb is a Professor of Ethnicity, Race & Migration, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University in Connecticut, USA. Her research interests include comparative diaspora studies, queer of color critique, critical Muslim studies, decolonial theory, transnational feminisms, visual culture studies, race and technology, and critical European studies. Her publications deconstruct structural racism in “colorblind” Europe and center strategies of resistance among racialized communities, especially those that politicize culture through an intersectional, queer practice. She is the author of three books, Schwarze Deutsche. ‘Rasse’ und nationale Identität 1890 – 1933 (2001), European Others: Queering Ethnicity in Postnational Europe (2011) and Undeutsch. Die Konstruktion des Anderen in der postmigrantischen Gesellschaft (2016), and numerous articles on the interactions of race, gender, sexuality, religion and nation. Her current research projects explore the intersecting legacies of colonialism, fascism, and socialism in Europe and the potential of (queer) people of color alliances in decolonizing Europe. She is active in black feminist, migrant, and queer of color organizations in Europe and the US.

Lina Fadel grew up in Syria and moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2006. She has a PhD in Languages and Intercultural Studies, and is currently Assistant Professor in Research Methods at the School of Social Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, Scotland. Lina’s lived experience of migration and work with marginalised communities seeps into both her academic work and creative writing. She’s interested in representations and autoethnographies of migration, and migrants’ and refugees’ sense of home, identity and belonging. In her work, Lina advocates for the power of narrative and voice in healing and building strong and inclusive multicultural communities.

Joon-Lynn Goh is a cultural organiser, working at the intersections of art, infrastructure and social justice. Joon-Lynn has an award-winning track record of community organising, organisational development, strategic programming, and arts curation. They have organised across different contexts and communities. They were a founding organiser of Migrants in Culture, an advocacy network challenging the operation of the Hostile Environment in the culture sector (2018-2021); a founding member (2017-2021) of Asia Art Activism, a network of East & South East Asian diasporic artists, educators and organisers in the UK; and a National Movement Lead for What Next? (2019-2023), a movement convening freelancers and organisations to shape equitable working conditions in the culture sector. Most recently, she was a Civic Futures Fellow 2021-22 with the Greater London Authority, in which she explored creative collaborations between artists, organisers and council workers. The role of the radical imagination in collective city stewardship is a growing interest.

Bhanu Kapil was born in the United Kingdom and lives in the United States and the United Kingdom. She is the author of a number of full-length works of poetry/prose, including The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers (Kelsey Street Press, 2001), Incubation: a space for monsters (Leon Works, 2006), humanimal [a project for future children] (Kelsey Street Press, 2009), Schizophrene (Nightboat, 2011), Ban en Banlieue (Nightboat, 2015), and How to Wash a Heart (Liverpool University Press, 2020). Kapil received the Windham Campbell Prize for Poetry in 2020. She has taught at Naropa University and in Goddard College’s low-residency MFA program, and is a fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. Bhanu Kapil’s collection, How to Wash a Heart, winner of T. S. Eliot Prize 2020, catches the thinning smile of that ancient human ritual: hospitality. In a time of increasing hostility against migrants, Kapil demonstrates how survival tunes the guest to its host with devastating intimacy: ‘It’s exhausting to be a guest / In somebody else’s house / Forever.

Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa is a British born Barbadian raised choreopoet and researcher whose exhilarating style of poetics which braids dance and poetry on the page and stage, is a force to be reckoned with.  Her debut poetry collection Cane, Corn & Gully (Out-Spoken Press, 2022) explored the narratives of enslaved Barbadian women and their descendants through their dances. It is the first book to feature dance notation of the enslaved. The collection explored her Barbadian heritage through the dances of women, the book was written in partnership with the Barbados Museum & Historical Society and was the 2022 Poetry Book Society ‘Winter Choice’. It was shortlisted for the 2023 Rathbones Folio Prize and 2023 Felix Dennis Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Safiya is currently a PhD student in Cultural Studies, her research explores how Afro-diasporic improvisational dance techniques can be used to archive the living histories of Afro-diasporic communities. She is an Obsidian Foundation fellow & Apples & Snakes/ Jerwood Arts Poetry in Performance recipient. Her notable commissions include writing for English Heritage, BBC Bitesize and The Wailers. In 2021 Safiya started a free poetry poetry programme in Barbados; the initiative offers professional lessons teaching a variety of techniques, form & poetry around the world and across time.

Momtaza Mehri is an award-winning poet and essayist. She is a former Young People’s Poet Laureate for London and winner of the 2019 Manchester Writing Prize. Her writing has featured in the Guardian, POETRY, Granta, Wasafiri, Bidoun, The White Review and on BBC Radio 4. She works across criticism, translation, anti-disciplinary research practices, education and radio. Momtaza is based in London. Momtaza Mehri’s ‘A Violet Coagulation of Dispersals‘ can be found in The White Review and ‘Oiled Legs Have their Own Subtext‘ can be found in Poetry Society. Momtaza Mehri’s debut poetry collection Bad Diaspora Poems has won the 2023 Forward Prize for Poetry in the category “Best First Collection”.

Vasuki Nesiah is Professor of Practice in Human Rights and International Law at the Gallatin School, at New York University. Currently a Yip Fellow at Cambridge University, she is also core faculty in the Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP) at Harvard Law School and teaches annually in IGLP workshops. Prof. Nesiah has published extensively on the history and politics of international law, human rights, transnational feminisms, reparations and decolonization. Her current focus is on her book project on reparations, tentatively titled Reading the Ruins: Slavery, Colonialism and International Law. She recently completed International Conflict Feminism which is forthcoming later this year with University of Pennsylvania Press. She is also co-editing the Handbook on Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) which is under contract with Elgar.  She is a founding member of Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) and her previously co-edited work also speaks to this tradition, A Global History of Bandung and Critical Traditions in International Law (Cambridge 2017).

Lola Olufemi is a black feminist writer and researcher from London. She is co-author of ‘A FLY Girl’s Guide to University’ (Verve Poetry Press, 2019), author of ‘Feminism Interrupted: Disrupting Power’ (Pluto Press, 2020) and ‘Experiments in Imagining Otherwise’ (Hajar Press, 2021). She is a member of ‘bare minimum’, an interdisciplinary anti-work arts collective and the recipient of the 2020 Techne AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership between The Stuart Hall Foundation, CREAM and Westminster School of Arts. Her work focuses on the uses of the imagination in revolutionary cultural production; its relationship to futurity, political demands and ‘imaginative-revolutionary potential’. Her short story, “Red” was shortlisted for the 2020 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing prize. Alongside writing, she facilitates reading groups and workshops, occasionally curates and is volunteer co-ordinator at the Feminist Library.

Harsha Walia is a Panjabi organizer and writer based in Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish Territories. She has been involved in grassroots migrant justice, feminist, abolitionist, anti-capitalist, Palestinian liberation, Indigenous solidarity, and anti-imperialist collectives and movements for over twenty years. She is the award-winning author of Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism (2021) and Undoing Border Imperialism (2013), and co-author of Never Home: Legislating Discrimination in Canadian Immigration (2015), and Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (2019). Her day job is in the anti-violence sector. She wants a world without borders, banks, bitumen, bombs, and bros.

Rafeef Ziadah is a Senior Lecturer in Politics and Public Policy (Emerging Economies) at King’s College London. Her research focuses broadly on political economy, gender and race, with a particular focus on the Middle East and East Africa. Previously she was a Lecturer in the Politics and International Studies department, SOAS University of London and Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the ‘Military Mobilities and Mobilising Movements in the Middle East’ project. Rafeef is co-editor (with Brenna Bhandar) of the book Revolutionary Feminisms (Verso, 2020). Her research on infrastructures and maritime politics has appeared in Antipode; Conflict, Security & Development; International Journal of Urban and Regional Research; Environment and Planning D: Society and Space; among others. Rafeef has worked as a researcher and campaigns organiser with a number of refugee rights and anti-poverty NGOs.


Related events

This event is  organised in partnership with the Alfred Dubs Lecture: race, corporate “sovereigns” and corporate borders


Thursday, 16 May, 2024 - 09:00 to Friday, 17 May, 2024 - 18:00
Event location: 
ARB, Cambridge