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Nations of Migrants: Panel and Conversation

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Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University

40 Arts Circle Drive

Evanston, IL 60208

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As explored in the Block Museum exhibitions Caravans of Gold and The Leopard (Western Union Small Boats), nations around the world have long been shaped by migration. This program will examine urgent issues of migration in our current moment and their connections to our place in the US, Chicago, and Evanston. Drawing upon a range of perspectives, we will consider issues such as the ethics of witnessing, self-reliance and resilience, and responsibility in a time of refugee crisis. Through this discussion, we interrogate the legal, social, political, and human implications of our histories as nations of migrants.

  • Galya Ben-Arieh will contextualize the US as a “nation of migrants,” and speak to the range of paths by which people come here (including religious persecution, political asylum, economic opportunity, etc). Within this, she will bring to bear her experience as an immigration attorney, organizer, and scholar, including founding and directing the Center for Forced Migration Studies at Northwestern (2011-18) and working currently on the development of the Refugee Knowledge Hub.
  • Seemi Choudry, in her role as Director of the Office of New Americans (ONA) for the City of Chicago’s Mayor’s Office, will focus on what Chicago is like as for resettlement—how the government and community provide different opportunities to immigrants, and how our structures and systems challenge and serve.
  • Mirabel Womila (Wiryen), will speak from her own experience, and represent the work of United African Organization (UAO), a coalition of African community-based organizations that promote social and economic justice, civic participation, and empowerment of African immigrants and refugees in Illinois.
  • Given the recent family separation issues at the U.S. Mexico border and hard-line stance on unaccompanied minors and families seeking asylum, Raia Stoicheva, Staff Attorney for Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights, will apply her unique perspective to address what is happening to children, both at the U.S./Mexico border and here in Chicago.


This program is co-presented by The Block Museum, the Program of African Studies, and Refugee Knowledge Hub, a community-based partnership providing leadership, knowledge, and support for refugees and asylees in our community.

Image: West African migrants returning from Libya sit in Agadez, Niger, 2015. Photo by Issouf Sanogo/AFP/ Getty Images.

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Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University

40 Arts Circle Drive

Evanston, IL 60208

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