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We are delighted to announce the “Thanatic Ethics” Webinar Series which will run from January to March 2022. Please note that all times refer to Central European Time since our speakers will be presenting from Europe. The details of the talks are as follows:

Winter Webinar series

Date and Time: 14 Jan 2022, 10am CET
Speaker: Alessandro Corso (Department of International Development, University of Oxford)
Title: The Art of Confession: ethnographic reflections on responsibility and doubt at the borderland of Lampedusa.
Date and Time: 4 Feb 2022, 10am CET
Speakers: Valérie Cuzol (Max Weber Centre, France)

Frédéric Lecloux (Photographer and documentary maker)

Title: Death here and now: Intimacy and politics in an ethnobiographical and photographic film (in French and English) and

Discussion of the film  ‘Quel côté de l’absence?’ (with subtitles in English)


Date and Time: 4 Mar 2022, 10am CET
Speaker: Professor Mita Banerjee (Chair of American Studies, Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies, Department of English and Linguistics, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany)
Title: Migration, Life Writing, and the Spectacle of the Migrant Body in Distress

Eventbrite details will be announced in due course for all webinars.

The webinars are convened by Bidisha Banerjee (CPCH, The Education University of Hong Kong), Judith Misrahi-Barak (EMMA, University Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3) and Thomas Lacroix (CERI – Sciences Po, Paris/ MFO).

Thanatic Ethics: The Circulation of Bodies in Migratory Spaces

International Conference:

Bodies on the Edge: Life and Death in Migration.


Venue: Maison Française of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Dates: April 28 to 30, 2022

Language: English

Deadline for submitting proposals: 15 December 2021

Notification of acceptance: 15 January 2022

  • This conference will be held in person and participants will be expected to travel to Oxford at their own cost.

Full description of the Thanatic Ethics Project:

Project Co-convenors:

Dr Bidisha Banerjee, Centre for Popular Culture in the Humanities, the Education U. of Hong Kong

Dr Thomas Lacroix, Sciences Po-CERI / Maison Française d’Oxford

Dr Judith Misrahi-Barak, EMMA, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, France


Organisation Committee:

Dr. Justine Feyereisen, Ghent University/Maison Française d’Oxford

Dr. Marie Godin, COMPAS-RSC, U. of Oxford

Dr. Alessandro Corso, ODID, U. of Oxford

Prof. Judith Rainhorn, Maison Française d’Oxford


Constantly surveilled yet paradoxically unseen, the bodies of dead migrants follow the tracks of the living on migratory routes. On their perilous journey to foreign lands, migrants come close to death or encounter it. Once settled, some of them yearn to be buried with their ancestors in their homeland, a few prefer the soil where their children grew up. The Thanatic Ethics project explores the social implications and aesthetic representations of the circulation of bodies in migratory spaces. After a series of Webinars and two Workshops (October 2020 to September 2021), the Oxford Thanatic Ethics conference seeks to address the liminalities of life and death in migratory spaces.

While recurring images of mass arrivals have fostered representations of migrants as disposable subhumans, selective migration policies blur the limits between the living and the dead. In 2011, the left-to-die-boat (Heller, Pezzani, Studio 2012) drifting for 14 days under the constant scrutiny of coast guards and war boats, exemplifies the necropolitics of migration management (Mbembe 2019) that distinguishes between those who live and deserve to remain alive, and those who don’t. These deaths are no longer just deaths in migration but “deaths of migration” (Babels 2017, Kobelinsky 2017), i.e. deaths that are a product of violent migration policies. The becoming-dead of migrants, or the humanitarian spectacle following migrant deaths at sea (Tazzioli and Stierl 2021), is also a policy tool: it is used as a deterring argument in anti-emigration campaigns in sending areas or as a justification for so called ‘anti-smuggling policies’ and border control that cause systematic human rights violations. Treating migrants as vulnerable subjects to be protected, migration policies are increasingly imbued with the rhetoric of humanitarian reason (Fassin 2011). The protection of the migrant body has ironically become a tool for confinement, bordering.

Death is not the end as the presence of those who passed away continue to haunt the existence of the living. Their absence and the emptiness they have left, imbue the social ties of those who mourn them. Body repatriation and associated migratory rituals are a way of filling this void. But what if the body has never been found? What if it has been lost in the depth of seas or in the midst of deserts? “Unritual” (Loichot 2020) art as well as online and offline acts of mourning have flourished so that those lost would not fall into oblivion: multivarious art performance, art exhibitions and literary production, but also memorials and public events  set up by families of missing migrants, diasporic communities, as well as pro-migrant organisations, attempt to make the disappearance of migrants visible to the public.

Circulating bodies become part and parcel of their biosphere, enmeshed in an organic and inorganic continuum with other living organisms, a wider relational cosmology of life forms (Kodjo-Granvaux 2021), from the smallest viruses (COVID 19) to complex plants and animals, but also material objects and raw matter. This is not only the case for migrants’ bodies but also for migrating bodies, their commodified body parts circulating on the market for organ trafficking.

From the becoming-dead of the living on migration routes and in (necro-) policies, to the ongoing traces left by the dead among the living, this conference addresses the manifold liminalities between what is alive and what is not, in all its materiality and immateriality.

We welcome contributions from the Humanities, Social Sciences and related disciplines (multi and transdisciplinary perspectives will be favoured) on the following themes (though not exclusively):

  • Methodologies addressing the relation between life and death: life writing, digital humanities, migration death databases, etc.
  • Policy narratives and measures of migrant death in anti-emigration campaigns and migrant death counting;
  • The humanitarian reason and migrant vulnerability in migration management;
  • Necropolitical ecologies: the relation between migrants and their environment on migration routes;
  • International organ trafficking; the integrity of the human body, dead or alive;
  • Liminalities between organic and non-organic matter, human and non-human;
  • Contemporary rituality (body repatriation, burial committees), its economics, its administration and politics (insurance schemes, debts to be paid, death certificate to be issued etc.);
  • Contemporary unrituality: collective, militant and artistic projects meant to dignify the disappearance of those left with no trace;
  • Spectrality: ghosts, spectres and zombification in the postcolonial perspective on migration;
  • Living-dead identities: usurpation of the identities of the dead.
  • Migrant deaths in times of Covid-19: Migrants have been over-represented in Covid-19 hospitalisations and deaths; at the same time, migrants have also been portrayed as threats (as ‘corona spreaders’) potentially causing the death of ‘others’. How are colonial legacies being reproduced with the bodies, lives and deaths of migrants within and outside the borders?

We invite contributors to send their proposals (a 250-­word abstract, title, author’s name, a 150-word bio, and contact information) to the conference email address:

Each presentation should be 20 minutes (followed by discussion time). A selection of papers will be considered for publication.


Thanatic Ethics Workshop 2

A partnership between The Centre for Popular Culture in the Humanities (The Education University of Hong Kong), EMMA (University Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3) and La Maison Française d’Oxford.

Venue: University Paul Valery Montpellier 3, France

Dates: September 29 – October 2, 2021

Language: English

Deadline for submitting proposals: 15 June 2021

Notification of acceptance: 15 July 2021


Project co-convenors:

Dr Bidisha Banerjee, Centre for Popular Culture in the Humanities, the Education U. of Hong Kong

Dr Thomas Lacroix, La Maison Française d’Oxford

Dr Judith Misrahi-Barak, EMMA, University Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3

Thanatic Ethics: The Circulation of Bodies in Migratory Spaces, began with a single question: What happens to the bodies of migrants who perish on foreign shores, often while making perilous journeys across land and sea in search of better lives?

In migratory and diasporic contexts, one often witnesses the desire to be buried in the home country. A home burial encapsulates a widely shared perception of home shared among emigrants, immigrants and migrants. Death imbues the meaning of home and therefore the meaning of what it is to live away from the native country. The place of departure is often erected as a place of moral centrality (Lacroix 2018). It underpins the relations with those who stayed and who hide their fascination for foreign lands behind their accusations of selfishness, oblivion and the moral dubiousness of emigrants imbued with western values (Carling 2008). And yet, despite this willingness to be buried in the homeland, the life course of immigrants can take unanticipated trajectories. As emigrants grow old, the links with the left-behind dwindle. For various reasons, burial in the place of settlement becomes an option and then a reality (see the Muslim quarters in European cemeteries for instance, Lestage 2012).

The migration crisis in the recent years has modified our perspective on the deaths in migration, at sea or on land. Recent works have sought to quantify the number of casualties (Heller and Pécoud 2017; Sapkota et al. 2006). Others strive to retrieve the identity of these people in the thin traces they left behind (Kobelinsky and Le Courant 2017; Cattaneo 2018). And when nothing material is left, what endures is the memory of tragic wrecking, commemorated by plaques, monuments or art pieces, in the wake of earlier dumping of bodies overboard in colonial and slavery contexts.

The current Covid-19 pandemic has added another dimension to the question of migrant deaths and repatriation with the disastrous prospect of outbreaks in overcrowded refugee camps and detention centres. The pandemic has also resulted in massive internal migrations and the current global crisis caused by Covid-19 makes the thanatic approach in migration studies a particularly timely one.

Literature, film and visual art is replete with discussions of thanatic themes, raising questions about the political, social and emotional impacts of such acts on communities as well as individuals. Though questions of the circulation and repatriation of migrant bodies can be found as far back as oral literature and folktales, “Thanatic Ethics” hopes to fill a lacuna and seeks to increase the critical attention to this aspect of migration across the disciplines.

The description of the Project can be found online:éens-et-internationaux/thanatic-ethics

After several Webinars and a Workshop online (October 2020 to April 2021), this transnational and transdisciplinary project is now seeking papers for Workshop #2, aiming at increasing the focus on specific themes.

Proposals should be related though not limited to the following themes:

Questions of body repatriation / Practices and representations / temporality

The politics and aesthetics of the representation of deaths in migration

Making visible the invisible / the role of art(s) and literature

Thanatic ethics and gender

Funeral and mourning practices / the (im-)materiality of the body and its politics

The temporality of death vs the temporality of repatriation

Bodies (dead and alive) migrating through spaces

The Nation, citizenship and the return of remains in migratory contexts

The impact of the pandemic

Questions related to the integrity of the body (organ trafficking for instance)

The individual and collective economics of repatriation

The impact of colonial history on repatriation

Grammar of thanatic spaces / the dead, the living and the survivors

Necropolitical divide between the dead and the living / the segregation of space

Human rights, social justice and migrant deaths

Necropolitical ecologies

Migrant deaths, humanitarianism and the politics of care

Comparative thanatics from a ‘multidirectional’ perspective / the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans

We invite contributors to send their proposals (a 250-­word abstract, title, author’s name, a 150-word bio, and contact information) to the conference email address:

Each presentation will be 20 minutes (followed by discussion time). A selection of papers will be considered for publication.







Reading Shaun Tan in Hong Kong:

Literature, Pedagogy, and Community


6-7 DECEMBER 2019 / Education University of Hong Kong

Abstracts due 31 July 2019


Abstracts are invited for a two-day conference centered on the work of author, illustrator, and artist Shaun Tan. We invite contributions that focus on Tan’s work from the point of view of literary and visual studies, on teaching Tan’s work across disciplines and curricula, and on Tan’s work in the context of community reading. Proposals for academic presentations, teacher talks or workshops, and panel discussions in any of these interrelated areas are very welcome.


Participants might consider:


  • Any aspect of Tan’s work, including the media and genres Tan has favored, his major themes, and the ways in which his works have been read. Contributors might explore how Tan’s distinctive vision can be understood alongside other forms of graphic narrative, children’s literature, or visual art.


  • Any aspect of how Tan’s work has been taught, including its usefulness in language, literacy, literature, drama, history or arts education and other social science education. Tan’s work also foregrounds the power of visual language, and might be discussed in terms of education for visual literacy, multimedia literacy, or other emerging domains.


  • Any aspect of how Tan has been read and discussed in communities. Tan’s graphic novel The Arrival was chosen as the book for the first year of 我城我書 / One City One Book Hong Kong, a community reading project initiated by the Centre for Popular Culture in the Humanities (EdUHK). Events related to the book have been held in the literary, artistic, and education communities, and the book has been widely discussed and enjoyed throughout the city in 2019.


Selected participants will be invited to contribute papers to an edited collection of essays to be published by Springer, as part of the Book Series Cultural Studies and Transdisciplinarity in Education, which has been included in the Scopus Index.


Call for Grant Applications

我城我書 / One City One Book Hong Kong would like to foster the development of city-based community reading projects in Asia. If you would like to found a “One City One Book” or “Big Read” project in a city in Asia, please consider applying for a stipend to attend this conference. The stipend, in the amount of HK10,000, is intended to facilitate the attendance of one or two persons who are in a position to develop a community reading project, so academics, educators, and librarians are particularly invited to apply. Please send a CV or resume, along with a one-page description of your vision for your project, to, by 31 July 2019.


Abstracts are due to conference organizers by 31 July 2019. Please send your proposal title, a 200-word abstract, and a brief biographical statement to

CPCH hosting Hong Kong’s first One City One Book programme

The Centre for Popular Culture in the Humanities at The Education University of Hong Kong is proud to announce that Hong Kong’s first ever One City, One Book initiative will be hosted during the 2018/2019 academic year.

One City One Book Hong Kong (我城我書)is a community reading programme which aims to encourage as many people as possible, to read and discuss a single book at around the same time. Each year students, scholars, and readers of all kinds will focus their attention on one single book. A series of activities related to the chosen book will be held around Hong Kong, including discussions of the book and its themes, along with exhibitions, film screenings, school events, book discussions, author visits, cultural performances, library events, and so forth. The goals of the initiative are to build a sense of community and promote reading, discussion, and civic engagement. To get started, see below for this year’s book!The book chosen for the first ever One City One Book initiative in Hong Kong is The Arrival (2006), a wordless graphic novel by the Chinese Australian graphic novelist Shaun Tan.

Please visit for further details. Should you have any inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us at