What is the other side of hope?

By Randall Rowe, PhD Student, Department of Slavic and Eastern European Languages and Cultures

On January 19th, the Global Mobility project hosted a film screening at the Wexner Center for the Arts of The Other Side of Hope (dir. Aki Kaurismäki, 2017). This film depicts the experience of a Syrian refugee who has fled to Finland to apply for asylum. One of the protagonists, Khaled, has encountered carnage in his home city of Aleppo, was separated from his sister when fleeing across the Turkish border, and was assaulted by Polish neo-Nazis. Upon arriving in Finland via a shipping container, Khaled meets Wikström, a middle-aged man who has a recent windfall of cash from a successful poker game. Their first meeting occurs after Khaled has escaped a detention center (after being denied refuge and sentenced to deportation) and is apprehended and jumped by racist thugs of the “Finnish Liberation” movement. When Wikström encounters an injured Khaled outside of his restaurant, a fight between the two protagonists breaks out and comically ends rather quickly with Khaled working in Wikström’s restaurant. The unlikely gang of coworkers come to accept Khaled into their ranks, and they band together to help bring Khaled’s sister to Finland. After successfully arriving in Finland from Lithuania, Khaled’s sister seeks asylum at the police station just as Khaled had done. Indeed, many migrants leave their countries of origin with the hope that their situation will improve, but a migrant’s journey is often long and treacherous. The Other Side of Hope attempts to address the migration experience through Khaled’s story of uncertainty, disappointment, and – finally – reunion.

Khaled, in a somewhat typical situation for refugees, is subjected to long periods of waiting that often end in rejection. He seeks asylum through the official channels and is then assigned to a detention facility, where he waits for his fate to be handed to him by a court. Khaled flees the facility and ends up in Wikström’s restaurant because he is left with no other recourse after being denied asylum. The arrival of Khaled among the ranks of Wikström’s employees facilitates a change for the restaurant. Tired of waiting for customers to wander into the restaurant, Wikström and the others attempt (unsuccessfully) to change the menu and atmosphere in order to drum up business. It is as if both protagonists were waiting for one another to improve each other’s lives.

(Prof. Vera Brunner-Sung (left) and Prof. Johanna Sellman (right) discuss the film with the audience) 

After the film there was a lively Q & A session with Prof. Vera Brunner-Sung (Department of Theatre, the Global Mobility Project) and Prof. Johanna Sellman (Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures). One of the audience members remarked that the depiction of white Europeans in the film was mostly positive, with the exception of the militant nationalists and the apathetic bureaucrats of the court system. Prof. Brunner-Sung added to the conversation by asking if the film occupied a gray area between the tropes of the White Savior and White Helper. The Other Side of Hope seems to attempt to subvert the White Savior trope by omitting gratuitous scenes of victimization and by foregrounding Khaled’s self-determination.

The film, though tragic at times, is largely whimsical and funny. The editing, use of compact spaces, and the “cleanliness of the mise en scène,” in the words of Prof. Brunner-Sung, work together to communicate complex emotional aspects of the film to the viewer without language at all. Aki Kaurismäki moves the viewer from a comedy to a tragedy to a melodrama back to a comedy. Ultimately, this conveys instability to the viewer and creates a sense of exhaustion. By highlighting this chaos, Aki Kaurismäki attempts to communicate Khaled’s experience as a migrant seeking asylum.

The film also attempts to address questions about Finland’s “myth of homogeneity,” as pointed out by Prof. Sellman, and the wave of nationalism in Finland and around the globe. The police arrive at the restaurant for a routine inspection and the employees quickly hide Khaled in the bathroom. Instead of finding Khaled and inquiring about his national origins, the police officer asks a Finnish employee to produce his identification because the employee doesn’t “look Finnish” – an ironic moment that speaks to the ways that racism works to undermine the goals of law enforcement.

The film also depicts Finland’s linguistic heterogeneity, as well as the social functions that these languages can serve. The fluidity of language choice captures the negotiation of self that many refugees must go through when seeking asylum.

Indeed, much of this film reflects the reality of migrants’ lives. This is what makes the film grim viewing, in spite of its whimsy. Khaled has been forced to flee from his home in Aleppo, Syria because of violence. He loses contact with his sister because of violence and chaos at the Turkish border. He must secretly travel to Finland in a shipping container full of coal from Gdansk, Poland due to further threats of violence, and finally, it is violence that brings him to Wikström and his subsequent employment. The streak of violence in Khaled’s life does not end when he leaves Syria. Khaled’s experience, crafted brilliantly by Kaurismäki, raises the question: what is the other side of hope?

Upcoming Artist Talk and Roundtable Discussion (RSVP by Feb. 9th) with Photographer Susan Meiselas

OSU EVENT
Tuesday, February 13, 2018, 7:00pm
“Artist Talk with Photographer Susan Meiselas”
Location:
 Wexner Center for the Arts
OSU EVENT
Wednesday, February 14, 2018, 10:15am-12:00pm
“Roundtable Discussion with Photographer Susan Meiselas”
Location:
 Thompson Library Room 165
RSVP by February 6 to globalmobility@osu.edu
Event Page
OSU EVENT
Co-sponsors: Department of Art Living Culture Initiative and Visiting Artist Program, the Global Mobility Project and the Migration Studies Working Group.

OSU Event

Susan Meiselas, born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1948, received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and her MA in visual education from Harvard University. Her first major photographic essay focused on the lives of women doing striptease at New England country fairs, whom she photographed during three consecutive summers while teaching photography in New York public schools. Carnival Strippers was originally published in 1976 and a selection was installed at the Whitney Museum of Art in June 2000.

Meiselas joined Magnum Photos in 1976 and has worked as a freelance photographer since then. She is best known for her coverage of the insurrection in Nicaragua and her documentation of human rights issues in Latin America. She published her second monograph, Nicaragua, in 1981. Meiselas served as an editor and contributor to the book El Salvador: The Work of Thirty Photographers and edited Chile from Within featuring work by photographers living under the Pinochet regime. She has co-directed two films, Living at Risk: The Story of a Nicaraguan Family and Pictures from a Revolution with Richard P. Rogers and Alfred Guzzetti. In 1997, she completed a six-year project curating a hundred-year photographic history of Kurdistan, integrating her own work into the book Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History and developed akaKurdistan, an online site of exchange for collective memory in 1998.

Her monograph Pandora’s Box  explores a New York S & M club, has been exhibited both at home and abroad. Encounters with the Dani reveals a sixty-year history of outsiders’ discovery and interactions with the Dani, an indigenous people of the highlands of Papua in Indonesia.

Meiselas has had one-woman exhibitions in Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, London, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, and her work is included in collections around the world. She has received the Robert Capa Gold Medal for her work in Nicaragua (1979); the Leica Award for Excellence (1982); the Engelhard Award from the Institute of Contemporary Art (1985); the Hasselblad Foundation Photography prize (1994); the Cornell Capa Infinity Award (2005) and most recently was awarded the Harvard Arts Medal (2011). In 1992, she was named a MacArthur Fellow.

OSU Event

ICS Lecture: “Internal Migration of Ethnic Minorities in China: Perspectives, Problems and Policies”

Friday, January 26, 2018 – 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Mendenhall Lab 191 (125 S Oval Mall)

The Institute for Chinese Studies presents the Re-Imagining China’s Past and Present Lecture Series:

Shengyu Pei
Associate Professor, College of Ethnology and Sociology
South-Central University for Nationalities

“Internal Migration of Ethnic Minorities in China: Perspectives, Problems and Policies”

Event Page

Abstract: Internal migration in China grew to include 245 million people in 2016. More than 20 million of these migrants belong to one of the 55 different ethnic minorities in the country. My talk will focus on these minority groups, the challenges they face and how the government organizes policies to support their development. First, I examine internal migration and why people move. Second, I discuss the challenges that stereotype, “closed-doorism” and community development create for ethnic minorities in places of destination and as internal migrants. Finally, I analyze the government’s policies to solve some of the challenges these community face and new potentials for solutions.

Bio: Shengyu Pei is an Associate Professor at College of Ethnology and Sociology, South-Central University for Nationalities. He received his ethnology PhD at Minzu University of China. His research interests include development of multi-ethnic communities and Chinese ethnic issues, with a special focus on internal migration of ethnic minorities. Dr. Pei is currently working with Dr. Jeffrey H. Cohen as a visiting scholar at the Department of Anthropology, OSU.

Free and open to the public

This event is sponsored by OSU’s Global Mobility Project and by a U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant to The Ohio State University East Asian Studies Center. 

New Research Guide: Global Mobility and Migration Resources

OSU

Prof. David Lincove, the History, Public Affairs & Philosophy Librarian at The Ohio State University’s Thompson Library, in collaboration with the Global Mobility Project, has compiled a list of resources on the global movement of people and issues related to refugees and immigrants. These resources include encyclopedias, books, article databases, historical and contemporary newspapers, streaming video, primary source collections, and statistical sources on the topic of global mobility and migration available to Ohio State faculty and students through the University Libraries.

One example is the list of 6 encyclopedias that include a variety of information from the humanities and social sciences available for scholars. This list includes: The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration, The Encyclopedia of European Migration and Minorities, Encyclopedia of Global Studies, Encyclopedia of Diasporas, the International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, and the International Encyclopedia of Social Sciences.

Another example are the Immigrations, Migrations and Refugees: Global Perspectives, 1941-1996 and North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries, and Oral Histories Databases available under Primary Sources.

Under Streaming Video, resource include Human Rights Studies Online and World History in Video, among others.

For a full list of resources, please check out the full guide on the University Libraries’ website. The guide is also accessible through the Global Mobility Project’s website under Links.

Film Screening: The Other Side of Hope

The Other Side of Hope
The Other Side of Hope, dir. Aki Kaurismäki, 2017
Screening Date: Friday, January 19, 7pm
Location: Wexner Center for the Arts
Cost: $8 general public, $6 Wexner Center members, students, senior citizens
The Other Side of Hope
Followed by a post-screening discussion with Vera Brunner-Sung (Theatre) and Johanna Sellman (Near Eastern Languages and Cultures)
The Other Side of Hope

 Finland’s master of deadpan comedy, Aki Kaurismäki (Lights in the Dusk, Le Havre), returns with The Other Side of Hope, the story of an unlikely friendship between a Syrian asylum seeker and an elderly Finnish restaurant owner. Worthy winner of the 2017 Berlin Silver Bear for Best Director, it’s a beautiful, timely film from one of the world’s leading auteurs. Khaled (Sherwan Haji) arrives at the port of Helsinki concealed in a coal container, fleeing war-torn Syria to seek asylum in Finland. Dazed and frustrated by the monolithic administration he encounters at the detention centre, he makes a break for it and heads out onto the streets. There he meets Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen), a former shirt salesman who has recently left his alcoholic wife for a new life as a bachelor restaurateur. Together, they help each other to navigate the adversities they face in these unfamiliar and often baffling new worlds. With hilarious sight gags, poker-faced one-liners and a toe-tapping rockabilly soundtrack, Kaurismäki’s latest balances his unparalleled wit with a pressing critique of the unforgiving bureaucracy that greets vulnerable asylum seekers in modern-day Europe. Humane and sincere, it’s proof of cinema’s power to tell stories that matter, with beauty and heart. (98 mins., DCP)
“A wry social-realist fable about the European refugee crisis, a funny and affecting appeal for decency in the face of suffering.” –A. O. Scott, New York Times

Research Update: 3 Neglected Transnational Connections Between OSU and India During the Green Revolution

by Renae Sullivan, PhD Student Department of History

We are in a particularly critical moment in time that requires extended understanding of the complex issues of immigration into the United States and the associated global forces that determine mobility. My research explores the overlooked linkages during the Green Revolution between The Ohio State University (OSU), and four professional home economists trained at OSU, including one from India.

The Green Revolution was ~

After investing in agricultural experiments in Mexico during the 1940s, the Rockefeller Foundation started financing agricultural research stations overseas in the 1950s.  These locations, such as India, were sites for planting and harvesting experimental strains of wheat and rice.  These high-yielding varieties (HYV) were biologically created to produce more grain, in contrast to native varieties of wheat that generated more stock than seed. The blending of research, education, and extension activities facilitated the beginnings for the Green Revolution that was to blossom in late 1960s India.  Scholars emphasize that the Development Decade of the 1960s was distinct for its “all-out drive for increased outputs of grain,” and the land-grant university models, along with their agricultural specialists exported to India, were key to implementing modern technologies that facilitated that outcome.

#1)The role of OSU ~

Who were these specialists that were exported to India? In 1960s India, local governments began the task of developing agricultural universities. With the initial funding of the Ford Foundation and the assistance of American land-grant universities, Indian agricultural universities also established Home Economics departments as part of their academic systems. In India it was known as Home Science. Between 1955 and 1973, Ohio State cooperated with four Indian Agricultural Universities under a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded project. Two examples of Indian universities that were associated with Ohio State were the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), inaugerated in 1963 by Prime Minister Nehru, and considered the first Indian university to effectively combine research and extension programs; and the University of Udaipur, established in 1955.  Through the Rajasthan Agricultural University Act of 1962, the resources of Udaipur Polytechnic, an institution that granted degrees in mechanical, electrical, and mining engineering, allied with the agricultural program at UU. Ohio State hired the American agricultural and home economics professionals who provided guidance at PAU and UU, located in Northwest India.

#2) Home Economics ~

Three professional, American home economists, who earned degrees in Home Economics at Ohio State University, were tasked with providing specialized support for the new Home Science departments at PAU and UU during the Green Revolution. Dr. Edna Ramsayer Kaufman, Dr. Maria Friesen, and Fanchon Warfield each worked under a USAID contract for a minimum of two years.  Kaufman and Friesen, for example, both worked at Punjab Agricultural University, Kaufman from 1965 to 1967 and Friesen from 1967 to 1969.  Warfield, who was the first to arrive in India and the last one to leave, worked at the University of Udaipur from 1964 until 1970.

In contrast to the Cold War ideals of domesticity, these three women were unique. Friesen, for example, earned her PhD in Home Economics at OSU at the age of 61, retired as head of the Home Ec. Department at Eastern New Mexico University in 1967, and then went to live and work in India at the age of 64.  Warfield, like Friesen, was single and started a new career in her 60s.  On the other hand, Kaufman, married at the age of 55, then left with her husband for her assignment in India. Although their personal circumstances and career motivations were different, they all held similar job responsibilities in India.  One of the main tasks for Warfield, Kaufman, and Friesen concentrated on hiring instructors and department leadership for their respective universities.  They also helped to promote increased student enrollment in Home Science courses and to develop curriculum and degree programs. They participated in village extension programs, extra-curricular activities on and off campus, advocated for the production of buildings created specifically for the needs of Home Science students, and frequently solved problems. In her monthly report to Dorothy Scott in 1966, for instance, Warfield tells the dean of OSU’s Home Ec. department that it was time for the University of Udaipur to open but there was nothing ready, “…not even a dean to give direction. This is the first time in the two years I have been in India that I have wanted to “chuck” it all and go home.” In their various locations, they always struggled to acquire and keep staff due to the lack of academically trained Indian Home Science professionals.

#3) Rajammal Devadas ~

One of the key Indian contacts that helped Warfield, Kaufman, and Friesen accomplish their employment obligations was OSU alumna, Rajammal Packianathan Devadas. After working at Women’s Christian College as a research assistant and as the first lecturer in Household Art in Queen Mary’s College, Tamil Nadu, India, in 1947 she received the Government of India Overseas Scholarship for advanced studies in the USA in Nutrition and Home Science Education.  With that scholarship, she enrolled at The Ohio State University, where she earned a M.S. degree in Foods and Nutrition in 1948, a M.A. degree in Home Economics in 1949, and a Ph.D. in Nutrition and Biochemistry in 1950.  Thereafter, she returned home to India and by 1953, she was Dean and Professor of Home Science, at Baroda College. 

During her tenure at Baroda, the Ford Foundation began donating large sums of money to the college to develop its Home Science department in order to train Indian women in advanced degrees so that they could fulfill academic positions around India.  As the author of the first Home Science textbook in India, published in 1959, Devadas stated that “Home Science coordinates the modern scientific knowledge with the cultural and spiritual traditions of the past, thus making home life a source of happiness and strength for the family.” From 1955-1961, she served India as the Chief Home Economist and Joint Director of Extension.  While she was working in the Central Government, Dr. Avinashilingam Ayya asked Devadas to help start a Home Science College in Coimbatore, India. For 20 years, Devadas was the principal of the Avinshilingam Home Science College until it transitioned into the Avinashilingam Deemed University in 1988, when she was advanced to the position of Vice Chancellor.  After 50 years of service to the people of India, OSU honored this alumna with the Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 1994.

Thanks to the funding of the Global Mobility Project this preliminary research contributes to our understanding of the historical actors and motivations that provided opportunities for female Home Science students to receive funding in the 1960s from the Rockefeller Foundation in order to immigrate to America for advanced degrees.

Research Update: Transnational Performance

by Joshua Truett, PhD Candidate Performance/History/Theory Department of Theatre & Sexuality Studies

Project Location (Summer 2017): Juchitán de Zaragoza and Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico

El Foro Ecológico Juchiteco Stage

My mission as an artist/scholar is to create work that expands social discourse and instigates introspection about social and political issues. I was born in San Diego, less than twenty miles from the Mexican border. During my childhood in Southern California, I became fascinated by intersections: the places where peoples, cultures, and ideologies converge. This is reflected in my academic research and creative work, which is situated between the intersections of various art forms—prerecorded media and live performance, and the borders between theatre, dance and film.

Josh Truett at El Foro Ecológico Juchiteco

My dissertation research focuses on a study of the festival performances of the indigenous populations of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca, Mexico. In particular I focus on the festivals, known as velas, in the Zapotec town of Juchitán de Zaragoza. During my third fieldwork trip to the city, I was part of a group of artists who began collaboration on a project to explore issues around borders and immigration. We were later invited by a local arts and educational organization, El Foro Ecológico Juchiteco, to use their community center for rehearsing and devising the production, which the Global Mobility Project grant helped to support in the summer of 2017. The artists involved in the project hail from the United States, Mexico, and Cuba. Together we have initiated an investigation into our collective experiences as migrants and border dwellers.

Radio interview

During our work over the summer we explored how borders and border crossings can be experienced not only physically, but also conceptually and spiritually. We began by asking how individuals navigate distances, mobility, and cultural clashes in fluid, creative, and productive ways that counter the common narratives constructed about migrants by politicians and mass media, especially in the United States and Europe.

These questions then contributed to a wider discussion of the challenges and opportunities created through national and transnational mobility, gaining insight into how these dynamics have affected our own individual lives and the communities we live in. The material we generated from our own experiences became the foundation for the original text and dance that we created during the workshop, which we plan to fuse with video and film as the project progresses. The performance we are creating will be multilingual, including Spanish, English, and Zapotec text.

Workshop 2

At the end of our two-week workshop, we were challenged by the realties of creating a transnational collaborative project in which the collaborators involved live in four different cities, separated by thousands of miles. How do we continue the creative work when we are not together in the same place? What are the hurdles to collaborating in a digital rather than physical space? In the future, how can we sustain a tour of a performance with the challenges of visas, “travel bans,” and the high costs of touring? What is the best medium to contain and share our work, so that it can circulate most widely? We are still seeking answers to these and the other questions raised during our summer workshop.

 

Postscript

A couple months after the workshop, in September of 2017, two massive earthquakes and numerous large aftershocks rocked the southern region of Mexico. The Isthmus and Juchitán de Zaragoza were hit especially hard, with over 100 deaths and countless numbers of buildings and other structures destroyed or damaged, including the complete leveling of a large section of the city hall, the palacio municipal. In a year that has witnessed so many natural disasters, the tragedy in Juchitán has gone under reported, and it has quickly faded from the headlines. However, the challenges faced by the inhabitants of the Isthmus persist and the need for aid and supplies is still urgent. Please consider donating to one of the organizations who are mentioned in this New York Times article.

 

Book – Turkey’s Syrians: Today and Tomorrow

This book may be of interest:

Editors introduce the collection of 11 accounts drawing on a rich base of field researches carried out by a multidisciplinary group of researchers on Syrians in Turkey. They argue “all in all, an accumulating body of theoretical and empirical evidence has shown us that there are changing dynamics affecting Syrian refugees’ presence in their destination countries.”

The collected volume includes contributions by H. Yaprak Civelek, Funda Ustek Spilda, Helen Macreath, M. Utku Güngör, S. Gülfer Sağnıç, Aslı Ilgıt, Fulya Memişoğlu, Tahire Erman, Güneş Gökgöz, Alexa Arena, Cansu Aydın, Bilge Deniz Çatak, Nagihan Taşdemir, M. Murat Yüceşahin, Ibrahim Sirkeci, K. Onur Unutulmaz, and Deniz Eroglu Utku.

Read more about it

2nd Annual OSU Migration Studies Symposium

Our friends at the Migration Studies Working Group has just announced a call for presenters for the 2nd Annual OSU Migration Studies Symposium

“WALLS AND PASSAGES”

Call for Presenters

The Migration Studies Working Group invites OSU graduate students and faculty, as well as Columbus-based community organizations and teachers, to send a proposal for a paper, or for a roundtable or interactive workshop, for our second annual Migration Studies Symposium, a full day event on Friday, March 2, 2018. Interventions may directly or indirectly connect to the theme “Walls and Passages”; they are interested in a variety of interpretations of and responses to this phrase. This interdisciplinary symposium will offer a forum for sharing and discussing a range of current work connected with migration experiences and migration studies. In curating this event, they welcome opportunities to collaborate and are especially interested in creating space for conversations that bridge community building, advocacy, teaching, and scholarly work.

Please send your 150-word proposal to migrationstudiesworkinggroup@gmail.com by Dec. 31, 2017.

If you would like to volunteer for this event, please contact the Migration Studies Working Group at the email address above.

Human Rights in Transit Podcast

In episode 9 of the Human Rights in Transit Podcast, Kathryn Metz (Outreach Coordinator for the Center for Slavic and East European Studies) and Eleanor Paynter (PhD student in the Department of Comparative Studies) discuss conditions of transit for migrants both outside and inside EU borders. What factors shape the journeys of migrants as they reach and attempt to enter the EU? How do migrants’ descriptions of their own experiences of transit complicate popular representations of migration to Europe? Their conversation draws on fieldwork observations and interviews from Summer 2017.

Visit here for more information, including additional resources to contextualize their conversation and some further reading: https://u.osu.edu/hrit/2017/11/27/hrit-podcast-episode-nine/