Organized by the International Institute and the Asian American Studies Department
DATE: Monday, November 22, 2021
TIME: 9:30-10:45 AM
LOCATION: Virtual/Zoom (REGISTRATION REQUIRED)
What is it like to be a refugee? What is the role of narrative in determining who is considered a refugee and who gets labeled an economic migrant? Why is it important to respect refugees’ dignity, and what are best practices for doing so? These are questions that Dina Nayeri explores in her award-winning book of creative nonfiction, The Ungrateful Refugee (2019). This book interweaves Nayeri’s experiences as a child refugee from Iran with her advocacy for contemporary refugees. During this event, Nayeri will engage in conversation with Dr. Evyn Lê Espiritu Gandhi about her book and how it continues to resonate in the current moment of mass forced displacement from Afghanistan, Haiti, Syria, and Central America, to name just a few. This event kicks off the UCLA International Institute’s year-long series, “Global Racial Justice and the Everyday Politics of Crisis and Hope,” continuing conversations inspired by the Movement for Black Lives and the long history of interconnected struggles for racial justice in the context of global histories of colonialism, imperialism and internationalism.
Dina Nayeri is the author of two novels and a book of creative nonfiction, The Ungrateful Refugee (2019), winner of the Geschwister Scholl Preis and finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Kirkus Prize, and Elle Grand Prix des Lectrices, and called by The Guardian “a work of astonishing, insistent importance.” Her essay of the same name was one of The Guardian’s most widely read long reads in 2017, and is taught in schools and anthologized around the world. A 2019-2020 Fellow at the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris, and winner of the 2018 UNESCO City of Literature Paul Engle Prize, Nayeri has won a National Endowment for the Arts literature grant, the O. Henry Prize, and Best American Short Stories, among other honors. Her work has been published in 20+ countries and in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Granta, and many other publications. Her short dramas have been produced by the English Touring Theatre and The Old Vic in London. She is a graduate of Princeton, Harvard, and the Iowa Writers Workshop. In autumn 2021, she will be a Fellow at the American Library in Paris. She is currently working on plays, screenplays, and her upcoming publications include The Waiting Place, a nonfiction children’s book about refugee camp, Who Gets Believed, a creative nonfiction book, and Sitting Bird, a novel.
Evyn Lê Espiritu Gandhi is an assistant professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her book, Archipelago of Resettlement: Vietnamese Refugee Settlers and Decolonization across Guam and Israel-Palestine, is forthcoming with University of California Press in spring 2022.