Coffee & Conflict

Between Artificial Borders: the Plight of Refugees

Monday, October 18th

Noon – 1:30 pm PST

Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82978535010

This month’s Coffee & Conflict was inspired by the theme of the 2021 Northwest Collaborative Futures Conference (Oct. 21-22nd), “Deconstructing Artificial Borders.” Borders serve as a symbol of geographically bound collective identity. In other words, they tell a story about land, who we are, and who we are not. That this is only a story and “artificial” is an apparent fact: a “border” has no concrete reality. Even though a physical border may exist, it is the story of what that stack of bricks, concrete, and steel means that make it a “border.” As the conference title suggests, our story of borders may require “deconstructing” – a task that involves unmasking them of narrative (story) so we can see them for what they truly are.

What are borders, then, truly? and, What is it be like to be stuck between them?

Alena and Aaron would like to invite you into a facilitated conversation about what it may be like to be stuck between borders, as it relates to the experience of refugees around the world. There is no guiding international conflict this week, and our discussion may touch on a number of questions:

  • What is the experience of a person “stuck between borders?”
  • Is there an international conflict you can identify that relates to this question?

There are also “borders within borders.” Just look at Belarus, the small country that has been in the news a lot lately.

Think of the air space that was defined in a rather solid way when Belarussian dictator Lukashenka forced a commercial plane to land so that he could remove and jail an opposition activist who was on board. While the air space was always there, this action solidified a wall in the air that diverted commercial air traffic around this see-through border.

  • What other countries can you think of that redefined borders for its citizens and neighbours?
  • How about dissidents who are kidnapped abroad, extending the artificial borders far beyond the land?

Bring your coffee, tea, or beverage of choice – we look forward to sharing this discussion with you!

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