Alison Phipps, University of Glasgow, UK

Educating the Migratory Imagination: A Guide to the Traveller



This paper considers the place of migratory aesthetics in research which takes a decolonizing approach to questions of migration, multilingualism and education. It draws on poetry and film as a guide to possible ways forward.

Migratory aesthetics and their role of the arts in creating transformative changes both in learners and in the wider public are often neglected in the focus on metrics for educational impact. In 2015 a photograph – of Aylan Kurdi – and a word, spoken in German on a news channel – provoked substantial educational and political change with regard to the way Europe viewed and acted towards refugees. This has had significant medium to long term implications for considering multilingualism and translingual practices. This paper will take the present, volatile context in which policy and practice relating to education, migration and languages are occurring and consider the role of the imagination, and of artists in intervening aesthetically to create spaces for dialogue, discomfort, critique and change.

The paper will draw on the work of Mieke Bal, on migratory aesthetics, John Paul Lederach, on The Moral Imagination in conflict transformation, Spivak’s view of An Aesthetic Education in an Era of Globalisation and of the double binds we necessarily inhabit as educators and thinkers. It will offer some practical suggestions for ways of working within a decolonising, yet creative space as researchers and educators, and will use poetry and the film ‘A Guide to the Traveller’ as a frame for development.

Alison Phipps is Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies at the University of Glasgow where she is also convener of Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network and PI on the AHRC Translating Cultures Large Grant – Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language, the Body, Law and the State.