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INSIGHTS Virtual Lectures: A babybook: documenting undocumented motherhood by Dr Jen Bagelman

Dr Jen Bagelman, Lecturer in Human Geography, Newcastle University

Date/Time: Thursday 18 June 2020, 17:30 - 18:00

A lecture to mark Refugee Week (15 – 21 June 2020)

Taking place during Refugee Week, this talk opens up questions relating to citizenship, hostile bordering and anti-colonial migrant justice. It does so through a seemingly unusual medium: a babybook. Tucked away in dusty places, many of us store precious scrapbooks – or ‘babybooks’ – that document a child’s birth. A babybook is often a collection of early memories that trace the start of a new life. It has pages to record time spent in the hospital, baby showers, and maybe the first day of nursery. Other pages hold information about family members, doctor appointments and other lively fragments (like clippings of hair). 

This talk explores the research process of co-designing a babybook with Queen Shikwambi – a refugee living on unceded Coast Salish territories (Vancouver Island, Canada). Unlike many babybooks which serve as a private collection, Queen designed her book with a political aim: to publicly document her struggles of giving birth as an undocumented mother. Following the pages of Queen's intimate text, this talk explores the structural problems that produce irregularization and the specific challenges migrants face in accessing health care. While illuminating the gendered forms of violence experienced by many with precarious status this talk concludes by pointing to the creative forms of ‘sanctuary’ that may challenge such hostilities.

The lecture will be followed by a live Q&A with the speaker.