Strangers, Aliens and Foreigners


What is it About?
The Strangers, Aliens, and Foreigners project addresses one of the most pressing issues facing us today: the place of “the other” in our lives. In this project, scholars, artists, refugees, immigrants — anyone living in a country with a border, basically — explore the important place that strangers, aliens, and foreigners have in constituting our self-conceptions, our societies, and our culture. The project employs a creative, inter-disciplinary approach in exploring the transformation brought about by the immigration, migration, assimilation, and exclusion of those we consider outsiders. In the project, we engage in research dialogues, artistic exchanges, storytelling, and the sharing of personal narratives regarding the modern transformation of the world being brought about by massive movements of people across the globe. The changes engendered by those who consider themselves (or are considered) outsiders are impossible to ignore– whether in the social, political, economic, or cultural realm.

The Strangers, Aliens, and Foreigners project seeks to discuss the topic through the lens of various academic disciplines and the personal experiences of migrants, as well as the reactions of artists, politicians, teachers, and others to global movements of people and culture. The changes to communities, institutions, and nations brought about by those considered “outsiders” is a real-world issue that can most effectively be considered through interdisciplinary research and dialogue that encompasses both traditional disciplines and voices outside of academia.

The Issues
The project will critically engage with a number of core themes:

• What constitutes strangeness / otherness
• Exclusion, acceptance or assimilation of foreigners by host nations
• The economic impact of strangers, aliens, and foreigners Representations of strangers in art and culture
• How the self is represented / composed in relation to strangers, aliens, and foreigners
• How desire for / repulsion of strangers impacts cultures and institutions
• How the concept of “the stranger” is used to define nations and incite nationalism
• The experiences of those considered strangers, aliens, or foreigners
• How “alien-ness” is constituted, understood and expressed.

Related themes will also be identified for development and exploration. Cross-context research projects will be developed through the project meetings.

The Audience
The Strangers, Aliens, and Foreigners project is open to all individuals whose lives, work, art, or research are impacted by a real (or even imagined!) influx of strangers. The project is open to academics and others who are interested in discussing relevant topics, and to members of NGOs, charitable organizations and/or governmental agencies whose work focuses on the movement of people across borders. IDN is specifically interested in engaging practitioners in human services who have direct experience of the issues involved. In addition, we warmly welcome presentations from persons who have undergone processes of “alienation”.