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About the speaker’s research

There were approximately 25,000 refugee claims made in Canada in 2011. And yet, the concept of the refugee is disappearing. The introduction of policies that make it very difficult for impoverished and persecuted peoples to get to Canada legally and policies that make it legal to incarcerate them for the crime of seeking a better life mean that refugees are being reconstituted as criminals, queue jumpers, and frauds. With this in mind, Carrie Dawson’s most recent research looks at the representation of refugees in contemporary literature and culture. For example, “The Refugee’s Body of Knowledge” (Topia, 2013) begins by considering the negative implications of recent amendments to the refugee certification process. It foregrounds the waning importance of narrative in that process and then asks what is lost when refugees are denied the opportunity to tell their stories in meaningful and politically expedient forums. Similarly, “On Thinking like a State” (Journal of Canadian Studies, 2011) explores the innovative and productive ways in which a number of contemporary Canadian writers have responded to the state regulation of citizenship.

Although Carrie is broadly interested in literary representations of citizenship and migration, her published work spans a number of fields, including ecocriticism, the study of literary fraud/imposture, and the end(s) of national literatures. She has published essays on a number of contemporary writers, including Michael Ondaatje, Alice Munro, Dionne Brand, Thomas King, and Peter Carey.

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