Humanities Lecture: Katrina Powell

In “Warehousing Refugees,” Merrill Smith says that mass containment keeps people “in protracted situations of restricted mobility, enforced idleness, and dependency–their lives on indefinite hold–in violation of their basic rights under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.” In this talk, titled “Tent Cities, Resettlement Housing, and Rhetorical Constructions of Home in Narratives of Displacement,” Katrina Powell examines rhetorical constructions of home, specifically within the recent surge of semi-permanent “housing” structures designed and built by large corporations. These literal and figurative constructions, while claiming to be “durable solutions,” actually perpetuate warehousing PSR and are ways to control, manage, and efficiently “deal with” the millions of people displaced due to natural disaster, civil unrest, and government-sponsored development.

Katrina M. Powell is Professor of Rhetoric and Writing and Director of the Center for Rhetoric in Society at Virginia Tech. Her research focuses on displacement narratives and human rights rhetorics across transnational contexts. She is the author and editor of several books, including, Identity and Power in Narratives of Displacement (2015).

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