July 28th, 2015 by Dan Branigan.
Poetry, it seems, is a gift that keeps on giving. In this case our GROUNDation Poetry Project and the book ‘Home’ it produced, have led to an association with the University of Essex, which in turn has led to recent opportunities to promote the work of Safe Ground.
From 10-11th July 2015 Safe Ground participated as part of the “Thinking Home” symposium held by and interdisciplinary working group of academics exploring the concept of home. Safe Ground was an equally weighty presence amongst psychoanalysts, anthropologists, sociologists, literati, linguists and lawyers, all of whom were on the social activism end of interaction with their subject. The University of Essex is one of the oldest academic human rights centres in the world and enjoys a global reputation as a leader in the field of human rights research, practice, and education.
The first day was dedicated to academic talks by international experts from the disciplines listed above. Each presentation contained material of interest but they did vary in how much they captivated the audience. The second day gave practitioners a moment in the sun, and Safe Ground (Obinna Nwosu, Jack Pryor) duly delivered in typically lyrical fashion, alongside Shelter (Shannon Harvey, Head of Research) and Kids Company (Stef Pruski). The section ended with a short but invigorating Q&A session.
The delegation then moved onto The University of Essex Theatre, and you can check it out, to view a performance of ‘Ewan’, a short play about homelessness devised by third year Theatre and Human Rights students. The piece was both poignant and effective in equal measure, and did well to humanise the process of becoming homeless and raising questions about agency, choice and circumstance. After a salubrious luncheon the event ended with a sparkling ideas exchange about the ‘what next?’ in “Thinking Home”.
Participants were: Professor Renos Papadopoulos (Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies, Essex), Professor Nigel Rapport (Anthropology, St Andrews), Professor Lorna Fox O’Mahony (Law, Essex), Dr Amy Morris (English, Cambridge), Professor Anna de Fina (Italian/Sociolinguistics, Georgetown University), Professor Jeanine Treffers-Daller (Applied Linguistics, Reading), Fran Baker (John Rylands Library, University of Manchester), Nigel Cochrane (Albert Sloman Library, University of Essex) Dr Rosie Cox (Birkbeck, Bloomsbury HOME book series), Zibiah Alfred Loakthar (refugee oral history collection, exhibition Belonging: Voices of Refugees)