Film Series: Evaporating Borders (2014)


We are happy to announce that award winning Evaporating Borders (Cert 15), directed by Iva Radivojevic, will be our next film screening, taking place on Wednesday 19th November to coincide with International Day of Tolerance.

Evaporating Borders Choice B

The title “Evaporating Borders” corresponds to the idea that the erosion of boundaries and borders (both physical and metaphoric) defamiliarize the narratives of selfhood through which identities take shape and reproduce themselves. The flow of populations, commodities and information is associated with loss of traditions, memories and histories. This poses a threat to national identity and translates to discrimination, prejudice, and intolerance. What is apparent in Cyprus is emblematic of hierarchical racial structures around the world, looking to cultures and peoples outside Western borders from a position of superiority.

By challenging the narratives of selfhood, the film proposes a search for broader harmonic relationships; inviting the viewer to delink from preconceived, culturally engrained paradigms that color the way we interact with the people and environment around us.

Evaporating Borders choice A

Iva Radivojevic is of Croation and Serbian descent, and was born in then-Yugoslavia but moved to Cyprus when she was 12. At 18 she moved to New York, studying illustration and then 3D animation at Fashion Institute of Technology and graduated with a master’s degree from Hunter.  She describes  Evaporating Borders as a “visual essay of five parts” about political refugees and asylum seekers in Cyprus. “But that’s the surface story,” she says. It’s really about “belonging, identity, how we interact with people based on our identities, and what happens when we disengage from those paradigms. It’s more poetic and questioning than journalistic. I let the characters I meet along the way — actual migrants and then the Cypriots, whether they are neo-Nazis or activists.”  

You can find her blog to see more of Iva’s work. 

And you can watch the trailer here.

This screening has been made possible with the support of The Equality and Diversity Unit at the University of Glasgow.

Doors open at 5.30pm. Screenings start at 6.00pm.

As usual, screenings are free and welcome to all (age restrictions apply) To guarantee a seat, tickets can be booked by visiting the CCA website or by calling +44 (0)141 352 4900.

Tickets must be collected from the CCA Box Office by 5.45pm, otherwise they will be released back into the system.

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Gaza : the destruction is beyond belief …



by Keith Hammond


I have just finished writing a chapter for a book on adult education in Palestine and as is often the case, there was quite a lot of discussion about the final content. This is standard when writing about Palestine. As soon as the book is out I will also expect the usual emails. No one ever believes descriptions about the punishment that Israel inflicts on Gaza. There is an even more disturbing problem however and that relates to disbelief about what you actually see with your own eyes. When you see the actual devastation in Gaza you can never really believe it …

This, of course, is how horror works …

I visited Gaza in 2009, six months after Cast Lead and the destruction and loss of life was everywhere. It was like witnessing a nightmare, something totally unreal. It is exactly that same disbelief that I am reading now in a piece by Inger Anderson on the Al Jazeera website.

Anderson writes after a visit to Gaza a few days ago, after which she writes, “throughout my career at the World Bank, and at the UN, I have come across many war zones but none compare to this”. Fair enough she is shocked but then she goes on to imply – by repeated omission – that Israel was not involved. Israel gets mentioned once half way through the piece. As you read this article you have to keep reminding yourself that this a woman who witnessed the scene on behalf of the World Bank.

Just as you would expect, she has great difficulty in believing what she saw. But she has another much more insurmountable problem in noting Israel had anything to do it all. Anderson describes Gaza as a humanitarian problem.


It is important to remind yourself that Anderson is no stranger to the destruction of wars. She represents the World Bank. So this is a woman who has been around the block a few times when it comes to assessing war damage. But it is the way you feel her straining to deny the work of Israel – for whatever reason – that you feel the tension in her language. It is this tight omission that hits you aas you read. It actually feels violent …

In the end it is the evasions of Anderson that deliver the punch. The whole piece is about the international donor community throwing cash at Gaza and then looking the other way. There is not the slightest hint of critique directed at Israel, though of course Protective Edge was not the first offensive. Gaza has been through it many times. But it is the way nothing is said about Israel being a state with a very substantial army, navy and air force that threw everything at the people of places like Shujayea that hurts …

This woman actually talks about the destruction of drinking water facilities at one moment and increasing financial aid to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah the next – all part of supporting the Oslo process we are led to understand. So Gaza gets bombed and Ramallah gets more finance. Nothing is said about the forced separation of Gaza from the West Bank or lifting the closure of Gaza so that materials can be moved as needed for rebuilding.



If something has feathers like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and floats on water then it is surely not a chimpanzee. Not even in disguise. So when does the world get real about Israel and call a duck a duck. Do we all have to wait until Israel does something that is so beyond the pale we can no longer look away? When and what circumstances might give rise to that one wonders.

Sara Roy writes that in three decades of research and writing on Gaza, she still asks herself, “Is there a language to really express the torment of Gaza and the way in which the world’s unflinching indifference and heartlessness contribute to it?

It is a straight-forward question that I have asked myself many times. How long can people like Anderson go on feeding the evasion that has punished the Palestinians for over sixty years? Do the culls have to move into the tens of thousands at one go before we wake up? We are not talking about a natural disaster here or a humanitarian crisis. We are talking about the indiscriminate bombing and shelling of civilian areas like Shujayea …

I have to say as I conclude this blog that I am not hopeful for Palestine or the international community that stands by watching things get worse and worse. I might have been hopeful ten or fifteen years ago but now. We are all watching Israel create greater destruction as though we are in a trance. We cannot believe it. One thing is for sure: things will not improve from this point and Israel will do itself no favours with the bloodshed. A line has been crossed and it will not get better from this point on.


KPH 6th November 2014.

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Always remember the wet wipes!*

Katja Frimberger reports back from the first European Researchers’ Science Night on Friday 26 September.

Waves of children ecstatically rolling in paint. Little hands, feet and faces wearing satisfied grins and multicoloured paints. “They’re water-dissolvent,” (the paints not the grins) I reassure every parent with panic in my eyes. I still break out in a sweat when I think about Friday night. I dream about Dettol wet-wipes and neon-coloured footprints leading off into an abyss as Happy Birthday to You gently plays in the background.



The Explorathon preparations started out very civilised. We envisioned a public engagement activity to showcase our Researching Multilingually project as part of the Scotland-wide European Researchers event last Friday – “an extravaganza of discovery, entertainment and wonder” (from the Explorathon website).

We planned an interactive Graffiti Wall as a starting point for conversations about the project. We invited adults to explore personal values and outlooks on life through a psychology exercise called ‘The 70th Birthday party‘. We asked people to travel in time, imagine their 70th Birthday party and the guests they might invite to such an occasion. By thinking about the speeches invitees might give about them, people were to reflect on the values and life choices that were important to them.

blog 1


Instructional drawings illustrating the exercise were printed on laminated card and hung about the exhibit. A video version of the exercise with sound effects played on loop on a screen.

People were encouraged to share their thoughts in any language they wished and use the paints, pens and brushes provided to paint and write what came to their minds.

The 70th birthday party was a starting point for reflections about how people’s “private sources of confidence” (Appadurai 2000, 11) – their values and ideas about their life, languages and futures might find a place in a research project like ours. I was keen to discuss the possibilities of creative methods used to facilitate research conversations ‘on borders’ and without words, and ponder about the values of delaying linguistic clarification when people write in languages the researcher isn’t instantly able to decode. I pictured sophisticated musings, on-the-spot philosophical debate and well-thought-out reflective sentences adorning our stand in a multicoloured wall of wisdom.

Instead, the creative display did its own work. Ten meters of snow-white paper on the largest exhibit of the night, waiting to be baptised in liquid paint. It was neither the laminated cards nor the video loop that drew our unexpected audience; none were of reading age and they didn’t have the attention span to watch our recorded exercise. Two sisters of three and five years old observed one of our number as they covered the wooden heads of our display in paper and drew faces. They were the first. Their eyes lit up.

The Explorathon exhibit

The Explorathon exhibit

I could read their minds: this was the biggest colouring book ever seen on planet Earth. It had to be done! The pages had to be coloured with all available materials in all the colours under the sun. These heads needed neon pink hair – LOGICAL! No questions asked.

The sisters’ brushstrokes started a domino effect – waves of children happily covered every inch of the display in dripping wet handprints of red and blue, bathing in finger paint, teenagers writing list of names of those BFFS they would (naturally) invite to their party, 70th birthday or any other for that matter. Between the happy grunts coming from the display and cleaning paint off endless pairs of little hands, I had short conversations with parents about the birthday exercise and our project. Some were raising their children bilingually and shared the joys and pains of ‘sticking to multilingualism’; others admitted that they found it scary to think about their seventieth. I found a sentence from a parent in small handwriting next to an enormous blob of colour and a cartoon animal face. It said:

Now scary thoughts! I hope people say that I made their lives happier, brighter and better“.

The two sisters at work!

The two sister at work!

Our public engagement activity wasn’t the quiet wall of wisdom I had expected, it was a rambunctious fest of colour and self-expression. It didn’t need our carefully worded instructions and sophisticated verbal responses, the creative methods did their work.

The graffiti wall provoked an array of non-verbal, embodied performances and expressions: the group dynamics of competitive brush-swinging; intense, individual, colouring-in creative focus; spontaneous blob-creating teamwork; giggles and arguments about who owns the creative space and a range of self-expression-data that evades any linguistic, intellectual analysis but smells of paint and Dettol and makes me try hard to remember the last time I threw finger paint around the place and squealed with joy about it.


The Explorathon exhibit

The Explorathon exhibit


Appadurai, A. (2000). Grassroots Globalization and the Research Imagination. In: Public Culture Volume 12, Number 1, Winter 2000, pp. 1-19.


*This blog was originally published on the Researching Multilingually project website.

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GRAMNet Film Series Launch Event

Wednesday 15th October 2014
Centre for Contemporary Arts, 350 Sauchiehall Street, G2 3JD
Doors open 5.30pm, screening starts 6.00pm

We are very excited to be launching GRAMNet’s annual Film Series this month with a very special double-bill screening…

The Film Series launch welcomes you along with members of GRAMNet and BEMIS Scotland to introduce the world premier of Pieter van der Houwen’s ‘Multicultural Homecoming’ as well as Basharat Khan‘s excellent ‘Future Memory in Red Road’.

The audience is warmly invited to join us in the CCA cafe following the screening to continue our informal discussion session over some refreshments and light snacks.

The screening is free of charge and everyone is welcome.
To guarantee a seat, tickets can be booked by visiting the CCA website: Tickets must be collected from the CCA Box Office by 5.45pm, otherwise they will be released back into the system.

Multicultural Homecoming
Directed by Pieter van der Houwen (2014)

Multicultural Homecoming option A

2014 is the year of Scotland: The Commonwealth Games, the Referendum, the Homecoming. All eyes have turned to this land of history and culture, stories and tradition. This is an opportunity for the Scots from all backgrounds to showcase that they are proud to live in Scotland, land of welcome. This documentary, shot during the Multicultural Homecoming 2014 initiated by BEMIS and the Scottish Government, shares an illustration beyond the clichés and makes us discover and celebrate the Heart of Scotland as a multicultural tapestry, a meshing of dances, music, sports and food. It gives the opportunity to reflect on notions such as identity and home where nationality is not a question of borders but it is a question of where the heart is.

Future Memory in Red Road
Commissioned by GRAMNet and Street Level Photoworks
Filmed by Basharat Khan (2013)

Future Memory in Red Road still (1)

2013, leading to a unique public event in May 2013 at the Red Road flats, North Glasgow.

The project was a collaboration that involved artists, academics, ex-residents of the flats and primary school, FE and University students in a series of creative workshops exploring the history of the Red Road Flats and the bond between memory, home and place.

The event included a sound-scape projected out from speakers located within the skeletal steel framework of 10/20/30 Petershill Court – offering the ultimate ghetto blaster! Photographic portraits were installed on fencing and garage doors and multi-coloured fabric sheets formed part of the visual interventions on the day.

Download our brochure here: GRAMNet Film Series Booklet 2014-15.

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‘We want to exchange our personal experiences of war, Sir’ *

by Nazmi Al-Masri

Children look at the rubble remnants of homes in the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2014-1121/El Baba)

Children look at the rubble remnants of homes in the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2014-1121/El Baba)


This day is carved in my memory.

As all academics in Gaza, I had given much thought to my students who were suffering all sorts of agonies and worries caused by Israel’s aggression. After 40 days of atrocities caused by heavy bombardment and random artillery shelling, which destroyed thousands of houses and devastated countless families, the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) did everything it could to make use of the three-day temporary ceasefire, which was extended for five days and then for another 24-hour period before it ended at midnight on August 19th, 2014. They decided to resume the classes on Saturday, August 16 that had so crudely interrupted summer semester.

I was unsure what to say to my students in my lecture class. Many agonizing questions occupied my mind, among them: Were all my students and their families safe or were any of them injured or maimed? Would they be mentally able to come to class? Were they still living at home, or displaced in some shelter? How did they feel about resuming class in the midst of such agony and grief? What tragedies had each of my students been through and how much were they comfortable talking about? Overwhelmed by these concerns and well aware of the deep wounds, loss, and hardship every single Palestinian in Gaza has suffered, I was not able to enter the classroom with a big smile on my face as I had always done in the past.

I noticed immediately that about 40% of the students were absent, they could well have lost their father, mother, brother, sister. However, as is custom in Palestine I greeted my class of 40 students with the idiomatic expression used in such circumstances: “Hello and Salam (Peace upon you all), all praise to Allah for your safety and welcome back to IUG.”

In low, sad voice the students replied: “Hello and Salam, all praise to Allah for your safety, Sir.”

I continued speaking, “Today we are not meeting to discuss a particular task or project. We’re here to exchange…”

Before I could finish, a student interrupted me: “We want to exchange our personal experiences of war, Sir.”

Without any hesitation I replied: “Yes, and that’s exactly what we’ll do. I am here to listen to you and for us to share our experiences. Who would like to start?”
One of the best students in class, Naji, began to speak: “I want to talk about three of my peers who are my partners in our graduation project, which we were supposed to submit last month.” Story-telling is part of the healing process that people go through in order to recover from bereavement and grief. I automatically responded “Please go ahead, Naji.”

In a broken voice, struggling to breathe normally, Naji began narrating his own tragedy.

“Before the Israeli attack on July 7th three of my friends and I were working hard to finish our joint graduation project due at the end of July, but we couldn’t. The problem was not getting the work done in time to graduate, but what happened to my partners, to my best friends. Approaching our final exams, we were all confident that we’d pass them all as we had done the past four years. We were keen to finish our graduation project and were looking forward to our new life afterwards. We worked hard, planned and talked about our life after graduation and how we wanted to help our families and build our future.”

Quietly, his eyes became heavy with tears and the words stuck in his throat. A few seconds later, he continued narrating his story of loss.

“It’s a unique tragedy that is different to any of the many tragedies we have learnt of so far. It isn’t a science fiction story, but something real that happened to my three friends at this university.”

Khalid – killed

“Khalid is one of my best friends, and the best of our project team. Khalid can never be forgotten; he has an amazing personality full of fun and life and energy. He is a fantastic and lovable friend and friendly to everyone.

“About two weeks after the attacks had started and during the most extreme atrocities in Shujai’iya on 20 July, I was listening to the news on the radio when I suddenly learned that Khalid had been killed when an Israeli rocket hit his house around midnight. His 55 year old father was buried under the rubble and severely injured his spine. Two days later I learned that his father was fully paralysed. Some of his other family members are still in the hospital and others are staying in the hospital yard used by hundreds of Palestinians families as a makeshift shelter.”

Saber – 2 legs amputated

“My friend Saber, who lives in the neighbourhood of Shijayia, was forced to flee his home with his family due to the random and intensive shelling of hundreds of houses in Shijayia. An Israeli artillery shell hit him as he fled. His two legs had to be amputated above the knees.”

Naji couldn’t finish narrating the tragedy of his friend Saber, because he began to cry. He wiped the tears from his eyes and released an extended sigh. Looking up at the ceiling, in a choked voice he said: “I can’t imagine what has happened to Saber. We used to play football and tennis together and used to go to the library, to the cafeteria, to the beach for a walk, to the sea to swim. We went everywhere on foot. . . . no more . . . no more. . . . I can’t bear to see my best friend without legs while I still have mine. I have not seen him yet, it hurts so much. To see my best friend in such agony, I can’t sleep for the constant nightmares and I can’t visit him.”

His anger rising Naji, started firing off questions; “Why do Israelis commit such unspeakable crimes against thousands of our civilians and families? Why do they massacre hundreds and hundreds of our children? Why do America and Europe support Israel blindly? Why do America and Europe provide Israel with such lethal weaponry to kill thousands of Palestinians? Why do they have the right to self defense but we have no rights at all? Why? Why? Why?!

I tried in vain to answer his questions but Naji cut me off: “I can’t understand! I understand nothing in this silent world of double standards!”

Salman – Displaced

Naji then began speaking of his friend and colleague Slaman from Beit Hanoon, which suffered extensive destruction of hundreds of homes. But this time as he spoke of the tragedy it was in the first person narrative, in Slaman’s voice.

“I will narrate his tragedy as he told it to me.

“At 2 am, while we were sleeping, a drone fired a warning missile on the roof of our 2-storey house of 17 people, my family and my uncle’s. With the help of my 2 teenager sisters, I desperately tried to move my 87-year old grandmother from her bed to her wheelchair. My mother carried my 5-month old brother and my father carried my 3-year old sister. Both fled the house in unprecedented panic. I don’t know how we got my grandmother into her wheelchair and onto the main road. We ran into the street barefoot and in our pyjamas. We ran like madmen down the main street for about 150 meters when we heard a huge explosion. Our home, all our happy memories, our belongings, our savings and all my academic work were destroyed.

“We are living in misery. In seconds we became homeless, like hundreds of thousands of others. We’re at a shelter in one of the UNRWA schools which lacks everything, nothing is sufficient. There’s no privacy, no hygiene, no water, no showers, no clothes. Mostly women and children, about 3000 of us here.”

After learning of these tragedies which happened to three Palestinian university students I know very well, my mind went totally blank. Then I’m reminded of Jane Austen: Ah! There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort. Looking at the sad and pale faces of the other students in class, I saw no-one wanted to utter anything.

The only response to these three true heart-breaking tragedies was SILENCE, which turned into tears of sorrow, at the many passive people and governments in the face of Israel’s frequent and flagrant violations of international law in Palestine. Ironically, deafening SILENCE is to be heard everywhere except from people of conscience.

Upon hearing this real sample of the countless Palestinian tragedies, will SILENCE remain silent?

It is hoped that SILENCE would decide not be silent anymore.

It is hoped that SILENCE’s good, clear conscience would give and honor this eternal benevolent promise:

“I will never be passive or silent any more about Gaza, Palestine and any place in which international human right laws are violated”.


* This article was originally published on Mondoweiss on 26th August 2014.

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Thinking critically about power through Ketso

by Amy Watson*

Learning about Ketso and helping others to use it in their own work has, for me, been an exploration of the ways groups and individuals interact, the positives and negatives in some of these interactions, and how reflecting on and learning from this can lead to more egalitarian outcomes.

Ketso was developed in Lesotho and South Africa by Dr Joanne Tippett, through her work helping to better involve local people in the planning of their villages. Holding workshops and discussions with different communities, Joanne observed the reluctance of women to speak when men were present, despite the well-informed and insightful contributions these women made when not in a mixed gender group. To include multiple perspectives, Joanne began putting together an interactive ‘hands-on’ kit which focused on mapping and communicating ideas through writing and drawing rather than just through speaking. This approach does not privilege confidence, power, status in a decision-making hierarchy, or the ability to vocalise arguments in front of others. It instead represents each contribution as equal in the form of writing or an image on identical leaf pieces that are all necessary to construct a complete whole.


Ketso© participatory research method

Ketso© participatory research method


Ketso cannot erase the inequalities and hierarchies that it seeks to manage, but its process heightens awareness of them. This is one step towards wider and bigger change that can lead to these inequalities and categories ceasing to organise the social world. More immediately this awareness is crucial for ethical practice across a whole range of industries, projects and disciplines, and has helped me to think more critically about my own research and my role as a researcher.

Part of my research considers gendered experiences of post-socialism in the Czech Republic, and does so from qualitative perspective, using a mix of interviews, observation and questionnaires. Post-socialist states have not traditionally been afforded the prestige of many wealthier Western states, and this has often limited their political influence in spaces like the European Union. Whilst I think some of this asymmetry is now shifting, mindfulness of how this history and its legacies might affect my presence as a researcher from a ‘Western’ location has ongoing importance for the way I interact with my participants. My familiarity with Ketso and running of Ketso workshops has helped me to reflect more carefully on this.

For example, part of the Ketso process emphasises silence. The room is quiet whilst each workshop participant thinks about and writes down their contributions, giving space for each person to formulate their own ideas. After all contributions are laid out, discussion follows. Those who find talking about their ideas easier must then base their conversation on every contribution present, including the ones made by those who are more reserved in discussion. During this period of silence, some participants become restless and start talking to those around them – looking for confirmation of their opinion, asking what someone else has written down, what they think.


Artwork on the Museum of Romani Cultures†, Brno, Czech Republic. Photo: Amy Watson.

Artwork on the Museum of Romani Cultures†, Brno, Czech Republic. Photo: Amy Watson.


Whilst conducting interviews with some of my own research participants, I sometimes had a nervous temptation to fill a silence in our conversations with suggestions based on my own perspectives. I view this compulsion as problematic, and my resistance of it as important – why did I struggle to cede control and allow a pause to lead to my participant speaking, if that was what they wanted to do? Through speaking, was I asking my (Czech) participant to defer to my (‘Western’) opinions? A misunderstanding of someone’s thought process, and of the manners through which they express themselves, can lead to the restriction or erasure of their perspectives. Ketso has helped me to think more seriously about different routes to self-expression, and how these can be encouraged rather than omitted.

With Ketso, I have seen workplace hierarchies be disrupted as a less senior member of staff is finally able to articulate an idea in a forum where they feel they will be listened to. Ketso makes ignoring opinions difficult: they are right in front of you, written down. You have to face them. The harder part then becomes ensuring that this variety of perspectives continue to be faced once the workshop is over. In this sense, I view Ketso as just the start of a much bigger process. In the same way that my experiences with Ketso made me think and act differently in my own research practice, so a Ketso workshop can begin to shift the attitudes and behaviours of all those who participate, towards listening to and respecting all others as equals.


Artwork across from the Museum of Romani Cultures, Brno, Czech Republic. Photo: Amy Watson.

Artwork across from the Museum of Romani Cultures, Brno, Czech Republic. Photo: Amy Watson.


*Amy Watson is a PhD student at the University of Glasgow and a postgraduate intern at GRAMNet. She can be contacted via twitter.

More information about the Museum of Romani Cultures can be found here.

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You can’t keep emotions out of the Israel-Palestine issue, so don’t try

By Naomi Head, University of Glasgow

While an open-ended ceasefire agreement is currently holding between Israel and the Palestinian factions, it is clear that the rule of international law has failed in Gaza. The international community did little to prevent the deaths of more than 2,100 Palestinians –- mostly civilians – and the destruction of countless buildings, homes and core infrastructure.

I want to suggest we turn to the debate that has been taking place in the public sphere in Israel and the UK on the role of emotions and empathy. Recent public expressions of empathy with Palestinians have been met with very different responses in the two countries. In the UK the controversy has centred on journalistic objectivity and impartiality while in Israel such public and private expressions have been silenced and presented as illegitimate.

The UK reaction

The debate in the UK following the outbursts of veteran journalists covering the war ran in parallel with tensions around British policy towards Israel and Palestine, and increased protests and expressions of solidarity with Palestinians in the public sphere. The clearest example of empathy and compassion in journalistic reporting emerged in Channel 4 anchorman Jon Snow’s decision to film a YouTube clip recording his heartfelt and emotional reaction to the scenes he witnessed while reporting from Gaza.

While some commentators argued strongly that Snow’s intervention breached the journalistic code of objective reporting, others praised his open display of humanity. They suggested that behind such outrage lay a set of values and principles which our politicians would do well to heed.

This concern over objective journalism is indeed an important one and is premised on professional ethics which should not be undermined. It also raised a deeper question around the degree to which objectivity is ever possible. As reflected in criticisms of BBC coverage of the war for being pro-Israel, for example, impartiality is hardly apolitical.

In philosophy and, more recently in international relations, a strong rebuttal has emerged regarding the privileged position granted to reason, objectivity, and the rational mind of the individual. In its place, we have neuroscientific evidence which points to the intertwined nature of emotion and reason in decision-making, philosophical and psychological evidence indicating the importance of emotion in making moral judgements, in shaping beliefs and values, and in forming our identity.

The Israeli reaction

Alongside this debate in the UK was a rather more antagonistic – and equally emotional – one in Israel. It has focused on the fact that artists, journalists or academics who have voiced concern, sympathy, empathy or grief for Gazans in the recent war, let alone those who questioned the policies of the Israeli government, have been attacked personally and professionally. They have been intimidated; accused of betrayal, treason and being anti-Israel; and been the victims of incitements to violence. This silencing of dissent and the suffering created on all sides reveals deeply worrying trends within Israeli society.

These developments raise a fundamental question about the role of emotions in politics. While emotions may contribute to destructive behaviour and beliefs, lead to the incitement of violence and harmful speech, they also contribute to forms of moral judgement, solidarity, resistance and revolution which are core to traditions of democracy and vibrant political life. In different ways, this was visible over the summer in both the UK and in Israel.

I am not suggesting that emotion should substitute for analytical news reporting nor that it always leads people to the correct political decisions. The point is that if we remove from public life the elements of humanity that journalists like Snow draw attention to, we move a step closer to greater dehumanisation of others.

The impartiality debate might be fading in the UK, but now that the ceasefire is in place, the question remains whether the empathy, anger and outrage which has been voiced so clearly in the public sphere in the UK and in other countries will have a longer term impact on western policies towards Israel and Palestine.

The Conversation

Naomi Head does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

We re-post this article as a contribution to the series of voices and reflections about Gaza from GRAMNet members and colleagues, which is hosted on this site.


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What goes with Dual Nationality? Valuing integration and equality.

by Sarah Craig*

The UK’s long-standing tolerance of dual citizenship, and the indications that, in the event of Scottish independence, r-UK would change its policy, and withdraw British citizenship from some Scottish citizens has been discussed previously on this blog and elsewhere.1 As explored further below, the likelihood that British citizenship would be withdrawn from those with ties to other countries (including rUK) is small, and rulings on the withdrawal of EU citizenship could be invoked to protect the British citizenship of those who would be affected (Barber (above), Tierney and Boyle).

For potential Scottish citizens, the threat of losing dual citizenship seems less of a worry than it might have been. However, by questioning the application of dual citizenship to the independence referendum context, the UK Government risks losing sight of the benefits of dual citizenship in terms of the integration of migrants and gender equality. It lays itself open to the charge that the UK Government, rather than the Scottish Government, is abandoning British values of communitarianism. It has also missed the opportunity to question other aspects of the Scottish Government’s citizenship proposals, such as its downplaying of the sovereignty aspects of citizenship.

Signs of a change in policy.

If the referendum results in a “yes” vote, it would of course be up to the r-UK Government to decide what its approach to dual nationality would be. In June 2013 the Home Secretary said that the UK Government’s decisions on the retention of UK citizenship by Scottish citizens after independence would be affected by future Scottish Government policy decisions.2 This signals the possibility, for some Scottish citizens post-independence, that their British citizenship could be withdrawn.

Existing UK policy and its benefits

The Home Secretary’s approach here marks a U-turn in existing UK policy on dual nationality which has been wholly accepting of dual (and multiple) nationality for the past sixty years.3

According to Fransmann, the UK accepted dual nationality because it stood for good race relations and integration. If retention of their citizenship of origin on becoming a British citizen would assist eligible migrants in the process of settling down in the UK, then this was seen as a good reason for not requiring them to renounce it.4 There are substantial numbers of people in the UK who have, or are eligible for the nationality of another country, although the precise numbers are difficult to assess because some countries of origin allow dual nationality and others do not.5 Dual citizenship reduces the barriers which eligible migrants face if they wish to naturalise as UK citizens, and strengthens their bond with the UK.

The policy of allowing dual or multiple nationality also benefits women because it can enable a married woman to retain her nationality, separate from that of her husband, and also transmit it to her children, rather than relinquish her nationality in favour of his. 6

Which Scottish citizens would be affected?

The possibility that they might lose their British citizenship is an issue which would be of greatest immediate concern to those Scottish citizens who acquire their citizenship automatically. The main groups of people to whom the Scottish Government proposes to grant automatic Scottish citizenship are British citizens who are (1) habitually resident in Scotland immediately before Independence Day or (2) were born in Scotland. Scottish citizens will be able to hold dual (or multiple) nationalities. (Draft Scottish Independence Bill, the Scottish Government, June 2014, clause 18).

HM Government’s Scotland Analysis document on Borders and Citizenship (January 2014) says that individuals who had, or were entitled to, British citizenship on the date of independence may have that right protected, although they also say that this right could be dependent on any residence requirements or proof of affinity to the continuing UK ( paragraph 4.9). That document also states that the approach taken would be likely to be consistent with that taken to former citizens of the Irish Free State and the Republic of Ireland in the British Nationality Act 1981 ( paragraph 4.8), for whom dual citizenship is available under certain conditions. Bernard Ryan has suggested that British citizenship could be withdrawn from Scots born and continuously resident in Scotland who don’t have an appropriate legal connection to r-UK. He also indicates that the more conventional voluntary types of dual citizenship – such as those which apply to migrants- would be protected. 7

A real risk?

While the category of Scottish citizens who risk losing their British citizenship is unknown, it could be limited to those without a connection to the r-UK (e.g. by birth, descent or residence). They may also be able to elect to opt out of Scottish citizenship. Furthermore, CJEU rulings on withdrawal of citizenship could be invoked to protect their British citizenship rights. This could happen if Scotland’s membership of the EU took longer than the Scottish Government currently anticipates, and Scottish citizens thereby risked losing their EU citizenship rights if their British citizenship were withdrawn. As has been explained on this blog, (Barber, Tierney and Boyle above) the C JEU could be asked to protect the EU citizenship rights which Scots derive from their British citizenship. Looked at this way, the threat to British citizenship seems more imagined than real, at least in the medium term.

This begs the question – why raise the issue?

Yes and No perspectives

From the “Yes” camp’s perspective, the UK Government’s approach looks unfair. Why allow dual British and Indian or British and Canadian nationality, but not British and Scottish? For them, it provides another example of the UK Government being unwilling to think of the UK as a union of countries sharing some, but not all, patterns of governance and institutions, and progressing in that relationship.

From the “Better Together” perspective, choosing between Scottish and British citizenship flows from voting “yes” in the referendum. It makes sense because it sees Britain as a unitary state, part of which is choosing to leave.
The “Better Together” perspective might explain why the issue was raised. The problem is that, from the “yes” perspective, this looks like strong-arm tactics, a case of “this is what you can’t have”, rather than a deeper look at what the creation of a new state involves.


In its approach to dual citizenship in the referendum, the UK risks losing sight of the benefits – for integration of migrants and gender equality – of dual citizenship. But by threatening to change its approach, the UK Government has also created a space for the Scottish Government to occupy, which it has done by explicitly welcoming dual citizenship and the inclusive approaches that it brings. In so doing the UK Government has left itself open to the same charge that it has faced in its approach to the NHS: namely that it is the UK Government which has lost sight of British values of communitarianism, while the Scottish Government offers a chance to embrace them.

Of course it may be that the UK Government is not concerned about losing sight of integration or equality. Developments such as the extended possibilities for withdrawing citizenship on national security grounds, 8 and the recently introduced regulations on renting accommodation to migrants indicate as much. Whatever the reason, the UK Government has missed an opportunity to draw attention to the Scottish Government’s downplaying of the sovereignty aspects of citizenship, and its emphasis on soft borders. It has missed the chance to make the longer term point that soft borders now may not remain soft in ten or twenty years’ time, and that inclusive citizenship rules can change.


*Sarah Craig is a Senior Lecturer in Public Law at the University of Glasgow and Convenor for Law, Glasgow Refugee Asylum and Migration network (GRAMNet). This blog was originally published on the Scottish Constitutional Futures Forum on the 29th August 2014.


1. B Ryan “ At the Borders of Sovereignty: Nationality and Immigration Policy in an Independent Scotland” 2014 Journal of Immigration Asylum and Nationality Law 146

2. Theresa May, House of Commons Debates 10 June 2013, col 16.

3. Fransmann’s British Nationality Law 3rd edn, Bloomsbury, 2011 p27; C. Sawyer and H.Wray Country Report United Kingdom, EUDO Citizenship Observatory, November 2012.

4. Fransmann n3 above

5. Sawyer and Wray, n3 above p14.

6. Fransmann, opcit n3 above, pp27-28, Sawyer and Wray opcit n2 above.Fransmann, opcit n3 above, pp27-28, Sawyer and Wray opcit n2 above.

7. B Ryan,op cit, n1 above.

8. See e.g. Fransmann op cit n3 p31


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Bound by law to aid refugees*

by Linda Rabben

Pressured by the most xenophobic elements of American society, the Obama administration has asked Congress to expedite the detention and deportation of Central American children and families to countries where they may be in danger of torture and death. This is the administration’s panicked response to tens of thousands of unaccompanied children who are coming across the southern border, fleeing violence and persecution in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Last month, the U.S. government acknowledged the terrifying violence these children are trying to escape, calling their migration a “humanitarian crisis.” Under such circumstances, the government has a clear obligation under national and international law to care for refugees while determining whether they qualify for asylum or other protections. It is our responsibility to treat them humanely and not return them to the countries they fled without due process.

Asylum seekers are eligible for such protection under a principle of international law called non-refoulement. It holds that governments can’t send refugees home if they are likely to be persecuted, tortured, or killed there. Governments have pledged to uphold this principle in treaties and other instruments of international law. But they often try to avoid enforcing it.

Why don’t governments like this idea? Because it means they have to decide, on a case-by-case basis and at great expense of time and money, if people asking for asylum or other protections are eligible for them. Often, these aren’t the kind of people many of us want in our country, so there may be a political price for doing the right thing.

Non-refoulement became well established after World War II. Before and during the war, governments turned away desperate Jews and others who tried to flee Germany and other countries controlled by the Nazis. Only a small proportion of the hundreds of thousands who tried to escape were able to find refuge in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa. The United States and other governments repeatedly refused to admit Jews and other persecuted people.

Apparently shamed by countless stories of defenseless people sent back home to their deaths, the World War II victors included a non-refoulement provision in the Refugee Convention of 1951 and other international agreements. Article 33 of the Refugee Convention says: “No contracting state shall expel or return (‘refouler’) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

Later documents, such as the Convention against Torture of 1984, built on earlier agreements. Article 3 of the torture convention says: “No state party shall expel, return (‘refouler’) or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) – which only the United States and Somalia have not ratified – says: “States parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure that a child who is seeking refugee status or who is considered a refugee … shall, whether unaccompanied or accompanied by his or her parents or by any other person, receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance.” This and other international agreements consider detention or deportation of children to be a last resort.

Like other nations that have signed or ratified these agreements, the United States has put non-refoulement provisions in national law and then tried not to implement them. Yet time and again, governments look bad and provoke public outcry when they practice refoulement – especially if they proclaim themselves protectors of human rights at home and abroad.

For example, the U.S. government’s refusal to grant asylum to thousands of desperate Central Americans during the 1980s led to the Sanctuary Movement, comprising hundreds of religious congregations, universities, city governments, and advocacy groups. They gave refuge to asylum seekers from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras while campaigning to end U.S. support for repressive regimes in those countries.

Now our government is acting as if this history never happened and our obligations under international law do not exist. This is a scandal, a disgrace, and a betrayal of the principles we claim to stand for. So activists and good Samaritans are helping Central American asylum seekers once again. The Statue of Liberty still lifts her lamp beside the golden door.

Linda Rabben is a faculty fellow at American University’s School of International Service and the author of “Give Refuge to the Stranger: The Past, Present and Future of Sanctuary”.

*This article was published by the Philadelphia Inquirer, July 25, 2014, p. A27.

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Refugee Week 2014

by Ruth McKenna, GRAMNet intern for Refugee Week 2014

Scottish Refugee Council banner

Scottish Refugee Council banner

It has been around eight weeks since Refugee Week 2014 drew to a close, offering much needed time for reflection after the excitement, joy and sorrow of the weeklong celebrations. Under the Refugee Week 2014 theme of ‘welcome’, GRAMNet organised, or collaborated in, eleven events; from research symposia to film screenings, art exhibitions to language taster sessions. Members from across the Network were involved, as well as a variety of guest speakers from the Universities of St Andrews, Oxford and Plymouth, to name but a few.

Preparations for Refugee Week began in the spring, against an ever wearying backdrop. A few weeks before our first planning meeting, news broke of the death of Reza Barati, a 23 year old asylum seeker killed in an Australian offshore detention centre on Manus Island. Closer to home, it seemed that every week another boat would sink in the Mediterranean, killing hundreds of migrants and, indeed, this Tuesday, the UNHCR indicated that 1900 people have died this year in such incidents. Just a month before the beginning of Refugee Week, and right on our doorstep, the Immigration Bill received Royal Assent, becoming the Immigration Act 2014 which, amongst other equally unpleasant provisions, places further limitations upon the immigrations appeals process and ‘[makes clear that] the right to a family life is not to be regarded as absolute and unqualified’. Juxtaposed against such disheartening conditions was the theme of ‘welcome’, selected by the Scottish Refugee Council to ‘send a strong message that refugees and those seeking asylum are welcome in our communities.’ Our task was therefore to compile a positive and celebratory calendar of events that would both extol the value and importance of refuge, whilst recognising the brutality and inhumanity faced by many refugees and asylum seekers.

Our event calendar began with a focus on the latter of these goals, with two seminars delivered by Professor Michelle Foster from the University of Melbourne. In the first of her seminars, Professor Foster discussed the difficulties associated with interpreting the term ‘membership of a particular social group’, within the context of determining whether someone should be treated as a refugee under the 1951 Refugee Convention. In the second of her presentations, Professor Foster focused on Australian Refugee Law, specifically with reference to the treatment of people who arrive in boats, as well as the use of offshore detention. A point that stuck with me from this presentation was the cruel irony of the fact that, whilst Australia accepts female refugees from Papua New Guinea upon the basis of gender based violence, it simultaneously maintains detention facilities on Papua New Guinean territory.

Whilst certainly embracing the academic elements of GRAMNet engagement with migration and asylum concerns, our Refugee Week calendar also reflected the community-focused aspects of the GRAMNet agenda. We continued the celebration with ‘Welcoming Languages’, a fantastically fun session that invited multilingual members of the local community to share their skills in langauge taster sessions. That evening, some GRAMNet members were also lucky enough to attend the Refugee Week Scotland launch event, which, by all accounts, was a burst of creative brilliance to formally launch the week of festivities.


Refugee Week Scotland launch

Refugee Week Scotland launch. (Photo: Katja Frimberger)

Our Refugee Week calendar continued with a ‘Social Media and Activism’ seminar, bringing together the social media coordinators from a variety of migrant support organisations, as well as interested members of the public, to discuss strategies for spreading information and encouraging action. We concluded our fourth day of events with a screening of the comical, but informative, short films produced by the Ethical Interpreting in Healthcare Settings project, to assist healthcare providers in effectively engaging with patients and their interpreters. These clips can be viewed here.

In a fusion of academic research and personal experience, the midpoint in our busy schedule was marked with a daylong session exploring ‘Migration and Initiate Lives’. Francesca Stella has spoken in more depth about this event in an earlier blog post, and I would reiterate her sentiment that the panel session involving Beverley Kandjii and Angeline Mwafulirwa, from the Refugee Women’s Strategy Group, and Tanjeel Maleque, a solicitor from SILPA, was one of the most distressing, as the panelists reflected upon the various ways in which they have experienced, or witnessed, the intrusion upon, and destruction of, the private lives of asylum seekers and refugees.

Whilst hosting a variety of presentation and discussion based events, we also utilised a range of visual mediums to celebrate Refugee Week, including a film screening of Hamedullah: the Road Home and Future Memory in Red Road at the CCA. Hamedullah tells the story of Hamedullah Hassany, an Afghan teenager who sought refuge in the UK and who, shortly after his eighteenth birthday, was detained and deported back to Afghanistan. Future Memory told a different story of sanctuary, documenting a public event at the Red Road Flats in May 2013, which celebrated the various inhabitants of the flat, both historical and current. This screening perhaps best encompassed the dualistic ethos of Refugee Week; showcasing both the trauma and the positivity that can result from seeking refuge.

Our penultimate day of events was the busiest on the GRAMNet Refugee Week schedule, kicking off with a symposium on ‘Interculturalism and Translating Cultures’, organised by the Higher Education Academy. This fascinating event explored the benefits and challenges of multilingual teaching and learning, and had the added benefit of being held in the same building as the wonderful Narratives of Change exhibition, featuring the artwork of children on a range of themes related to asylum, refugee and migration issues.


Artwork from the Narratives of Change exhibition

Artwork from the Narratives of Change exhibition. (Photo: Ruth McKenna)


GRAMNet’s research open day began later in the afternoon and showcased a selection of research engaging with migration, asylum and refugee issues, including papers on the history of refugee camps, ethnic diversity in the UK and English language teaching in the Middle East. From this rather upbeat start, we progressed into a more solemn and thoughtful evening, as Mary Bosworth and Sarah Turnbull from the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford presented some of the findings of their work with former detainees. With minimal exception, the stories they shared reflected the wholly destructive effect that detention can have on all facets of life, from personal relationships to mental and physical health.


GRAMNet Research Open Day

GRAMNet Research Open Day (Photo: Ruth McKenna)


Our final event of the week was a Syria Briefings session, which developed from the work of the Syria Briefings group at the University of Glasgow. We were delighted to welcome Rana Khalaf, a researcher from the Centre for Syrian Studies at the University of St Andrews to present the keynote paper at this event. GRAMNet also established connections with Uniting Nations in Scotland (UNIS), a community group set up by members of the Syrian community in Glasgow, as we were keen to include a diverse spectrum of voices and perspectives. Despite the sweltering heat of the decidedly un-Scottish evening, the audience was crowded with University staff, students, and people from the local community, including a large number of UNIS members who had recently arrived in Glasgow from Syria. Rana talked at length about the role of civil society in Syria, and the way in which forms of such society have thrived, even during conflict.

Despite the traditionally academic format of the session – a PowerPoint presentation followed by a panel discussion – upon the completion of Rana’s paper, the room exploded into a vibrant cacophony of questions and comments in both English and Arabic. All of our panelists were bi-lingual and skillfully negotiated the discussion in both languages. Alongside the Refugee Women’s Strategy Group presentation at the Migration and Intimate Lives event, I found this session to be one of the most gut-wrenching, as audience members shared their experiences of the conflict in Syria. One teenage participant talked about seeing some of his school friends shot dead. Another interrupted Rana’s largely critical discussion of rebel group al-Nusra to explain that, despite their negative associations, al-Nusra had paid for his family to escape from Syria and he therefore regarded them with gratitude. For me, this event best represented the ethos of GRAMNet, in the bringing together of academic and non-academic communities, for the purpose of translating, in every sense of the word, research into an accessible, meaningful and person-centered format.

In that vein, the questions that were asked with most frequency at our events were ‘what I can do to help?’ or ‘what can I do to change things?’ Therefore, I have concluded this post with a few answers to these questions, suggesting different ways in which we can maintain the momentum of Refugee Week 2014 and work to improve the position of asylum seekers and refugees within Scotland and the UK.


The Scottish Refugee Council is currently recruiting for a variety of voluntary posts, including a Refugee Integration Volunteer (Holistic Integration Service) and a Third Country Nationals Project Casework Volunteer.

Scottish Detainee Visitors are currently recruiting volunteer visitors to provide emotional and practical support to people currently detained in Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre.

The Unity Centre is currently recruiting voluntary caseworkers, shop managers and café staff. If you are unable to volunteer, the Centre also collects donations of clothes, toys and other items for their charity shops. They also welcome donations of food to distribute to destitute asylum seekers.

In July 2014 the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees launched an inquiry into the use of immigration detention. If you are an individual or group with experience of immigration detention, you can find out more about submitting evidence to inquiry here.

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