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2023 Events & Exhibitions

(Re)building in wartime how architects shape Ukraine's future while preserving its past-5.


This lecture marks the opening of the 2023 Oxford Human Rights Festival. 
​This year we are very pleased to welcome Slava Balbek, a Ukranian architect, founder and CEO of a Kyiv-based award-winning architecture and interior design studio balbek bureau, and who has been fighting against demolition of historic buildings, preparing rescue kits and creating an emergency housing plan within just 10 days of the conflict in Ukraine starting. 
Since the beginning of Russia's full-scale war on Ukraine, Slava's team has been crafting social projects in response to the war-inflicted challenges. The initiatives, including a dignified temporary housing solution for IDPs and a monument protection system, have been united under the RE:Ukraine System title.

'The Oxford Human Rights Festival is proud to present a screening of the award winning documentary Hostile, including a Q&A with writer, director, and producer Sonita Galet'

​Hostile is a BAFTA and BIFA Longlisted feature-length documentary written, produced and directed by Sonita Gale, focusing on the UK's complicated relationship with its migrant communities. Told through the stories of four participants from Black and Asian backgrounds, the film focuses on the impact of the evolving 'hostile environment' policies that target migrants, including No Recourse to Public Funds which is forcing people into destitution.
The film explores how the lives of international students, members of the Windrush generation and 'Highly Skilled Migrants' have been affected. The film features music from award-winning musicians Nitin Sawhney and spoken word from George the Poet. Nitin Sawhney also served as an Executive Producer.


Becoming Adult on the Move: transitions to adulthood of unaccompanied migrant minors in a hostile environment |
Lecture by Nando Sigona 

Migration regimes often fail to protect the ‘best interests’ of unaccompanied migrant children in transition to adulthood. Why is this the case? Drawing from the findings of the ESRC-funded Becoming Adult project, in this talk Nando Sigona addresses the misalignment between young people’s wellbeing and conceptualisations of their futures and the immigration and social care policies governing their lives.

Emigrant's Adieu Talk and Performance by Richard Carver

Millions of Irish and Scottish people have left their countries over the centuries to settle in North America, Australasia and elsewhere. And they have taken their music with them. This event uses the traditional music of Scotland and Ireland to tell the story of this great migration and to relate it to the experience of refugees and others who leave their homes today. Dr Richard Carver has worked in human rights and forced migration for 40 years. He was attached to the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University and for 15 years, up to his retirement in 2022, he taught on forced migration and human rights at CENDEP, Oxford Brookes University. He continues as a Visiting Research Fellow at Brookes, but now has more time to indulge his passion in Scottish and Irish music, playing mandolin, tenor banjo and guitar. He has written and performs this “lecture with tunes” or “concert with explanations.”

A Jean Monnet Roundtable Discussion about the threats faced by Europe's only indigenous people.

The Sámi people are an Indigenous community that have inhabited the far north of Europe for thousands of years. Over the years, the Sámi have faced significant human rights abuses and discrimination in Nordic countries due to a long history of racism and forced assimilation efforts. These issues persist to this day, and more recently the 'green shift' has unfortunately resulted in land grabs and has limited their ability to maintain their traditional way of living, putting the younger generation at risk of losing their cultural heritage. Join us for a discussion where our panellists will present their research concerning the threats faced by the Sámi peple today.
This event is hosted by the Oxford Human Rights Festival in
collaboration with the Migration and Refugees Network.


An evening of discussions, music and mingling in solidarity with the 'Women, Life, Freedom' Movement in Iran.


An evening of discussions, music and mingling in solidarity with the 'Women, Life, Freedom' Movement in Iran. The evening will include discussions as well as a performance by Iranian traditional musicians who have created tailored original compositions that have been performed in venues such as London's Trafalgar Square as part of the protests for women's and human rights in Iran.

An evening of enlightening short films and engaging conversations exploring various aspects of human rights today.

An evening of enlightening short films and engaging conversations exploring various aspects of human rights today. This event will feature a diverse selection of short films, each highlighting a specific human rights issue, ranging from racial discrimination, to medical rights, disability inclusion, and more. We will be joined by a range of distinguished guests involved int he making of these films who will share their insights and experiences on the issues raised by the films. Following the screening, we'll open up the floor for a lively discussion and Q&A session.

A discussion about Ageing in Displacement, informed by a current research project into the experiences of older refugees in the UK.

In this session, the research team behind a current Ageing in Displacement research project will discuss their findings related to the rights and experiences of older refugees in the UK.

n exhibition and talk regarding the unidentified dead, including homeless people in the UK, and vicitms of geonocide in Rwanda. Katie is an artist and PhD student in the School of Arts at Oxford Brookes University.

Trace comprises a body of work that explores the individuality of unidentified human remains. As an artist Katie's approach is though creative practice, questioning the boundaries between being and not being, existing and not existing as well as the borders between these spaces. Can we acknowledge a previous existence in a way that cares, without simply being a number on a database? Memory is held within belongings, the smell of the person, the stain or mark left after a memorable event. There is so much held within these items and it is this that recognises the life lived. In death our senses seek the bodily imprint left, captured and preserved to maintain a physical connection. This transformation is subtle and immediate and brings to mind ideas of relics as a form of sacred memory and healing.
Katie's work explores ideas of absence and presence, the impressions left after interactions or brief encounters and asks the viewer to question how we consider, think about and remember the lives that were lived by unidentified human remains. Subjects of KAtie's work includes homeless people in the UK, and vicitms of geonocide in Rwanda



The Oxford Human Rights Festival is excited to be collaborating with Modern Art Oxford through Voices, a new art project by Oxford-based artists Lilli Tranborg and Laura Campbell.

Responding to the theme of this year’s festival, ‘Now What?,’ Lilli Tranborg and Laura Campbell take a voices-as-research approach to creating their new project, which invites us to reflect on our rights in light of the current political uncertainty of the Human Rights Act in Britain. This is a sculptural and sound exhibition, with an added online presence, designed around 'Voices' gathered from the general public in Oxford. 

​The Palestinian Experience Exhibition aims to shed light on the physical and symbolic forms of oppression that affects issues such as shelter, livelihood, and identity. 
The exhibition showcases a video presentation explaining Israeli Architecture as a means of oppression. Guests may then participate in an interactive 'board game' that depicts how architecture shapes a persons experience in Palestine based on their identification.


Through the "From Education to Employment?" project, which was co-led by the Centre for Lebanese Studies at the Lebanese American University, and the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice at Oxford Brookes University, researchers looked at what this tension between short-term and long-term means for young people’s education and employment.

In displacement settings, what shapes the trajectories of young people from education into employment?” The researchers worked with young people – nationals, Syrian and Palestinian refugees – in Jordan and Lebanon in different ways to understand how they experience these tensions, navigate critical points in their lives, and envision their futures. This exhibition brings together some of that work, produced by the young people and facilitated by creative professionals, in the form of video, creative writing, art work and documentary film. ​​​

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