Precarious Trajectories research with Forensic Architecture forms part of Turner Prize shortlisted Counter Investigations exhibition at ICA

FeaturedPrecarious Trajectories research with Forensic Architecture forms part of Turner Prize shortlisted Counter Investigations exhibition at ICA

The work of Forensic Oceanography ‘Death by Rescue‘ researchers Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani forms part of the Forensic Architecture Agency‘s Counter Investigations exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, which has recently been shortlisted for the prestigious Turner Prize. An exhibition of work by the shortlisted artists will be staged at Tate Britain from 25 September 2018 to 6 January 2019. The winner will be announced in December at an awards ceremony live on the BBC, the broadcast partner for the Turner Prize. The jury praised Forensic Architecture for developing highly innovative methods for sourcing and visualising evidence relating to human rights abuses around the world, used in courts of law as well as exhibitions of art and architecture.


Forensic Architecture’s Director Eyal Weizman front row far right (PT co-investigator) and Forensic Oceanography co-founder Lorenzo Pezzani back row third from right (PT Research Fellow).


The Counter Investigations exhibition at the ICA runs until 13 May 2018.


Calais Children: A Case to Answer


Forthcoming Screenings of Sue Clayton’s hard hitting documentary on the children of the Calais “jungle”.

University of York Stand Up To Racism Screening

1 May 2018, 6:00-8:30pm.
PX/001 in the Exhibition Centre, University of York, Heslington, York

Brighouse Sixth Form Screening

2nd May 2018, 9am-3.30pm
Huddersfield, Private event

Stand Up To Racism CALAIS Delegation (2)

5th May 2018, 4pm-8pm (French Time)
Centre Europen de Sejour – Auberge De
Jeunesse – Rue du Marechal de Lattre de
Tassigny 62100 Calais, France

Manchester University Screening

8th May 2018, Time TBC

University of Essex Creating Change Series Screening

11th May 2018, 4.30-7pm
University of Essex, Room TBC

Fleet Aid for Refugees

18th May 2018, 7:30pm
Zebon Copse Community Centre, 90 Danvers Dr, Church Crookham, Fleet GU52
Entrance £10. Refreshments available.

Oxford Screening and Q&A


22nd May 2018, Time TBC
Waterstones, William Baker House, Broad St, Oxford, OX1 3AF

Refugee Week 2018, 16-24 June

Menorah Synagogue Screening and Q&A

17th June 2018, 7.30pm-9.30pm
Menorah Synagogue, Altrincham Road, Wythenshawe, Manchester

Screening and Q&A as part of The Sea is the Limit Exhibition

20th June 2018, Time TBC
Yorkshire Museum Lecture Theatre, Museum Gardens, Museum St, York YO1 7FR, UK

Whitstable Screening and Q&A

24th June 2018, 5:30pm
Saint Alphege Church, High St, Whitstable CT5 1AY, UK
£5 on door

Croydon NEU/NUT General Meeting

26th June 2018, 5pm-6.30pm
Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Rd, Croydon


Intl screenings planned for USA, Rome, Ventimiglia, Lyon, Paris, Sicily and more…

Get in touch for more details!

Precarious Trajectories film showing + expert panel at Coventry Cathedral 30 January

Precarious Trajectories: voices from the Mediterranean migration crisis

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Film by Dr Simon Parker (University of York), followed by Q&A discussion with Dr Simon Parker, Dr Myria Georgiou (LSE), and Dr Vicki Squire (University of Warwick)

Monday 30th January, 6-7:30pm

Chapter House, Coventry Cathedral, Coventry

Set on location in Libya, Italy and Greece during 2015-2016, at the height of the Mediterranean migration crisis, Precarious Trajectories focuses on the perilous sea crossings that hundreds of thousands of refugees have undertaken in recent years in order to arrive at what they hope will be the safer shores of Europe through the eyes of Ruha from Syria and Ahmed from Somalia.

To register for the event and for further details, please visit the following webpage.

Organised by Dr Vicki Squire and the  Borders, Race, Ethnicity and Migration Network (BREM) at the University of Warwick.

I am Human: Precarious Journeys

Professor Sue Clayton (Precarious Trajectories co-investigator)  will be showcasing her documentary film making and interventions on behalf of the former children of the Calais ‘jungle’ as part of the Being Human festival which opens on Friday 18 November at Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross. The opening night will feature Sue Clayton’s interactive video installation exploring the precarious journeys of refugees fleeing conflict to the UK.

Courtesy of ITV News

At 7pm, Professor Clayton will give a talk introducing the work and situating it within her documentary filmmaking practice and her recent experiences helping children escape the Calais ‘Jungle’.

About the exhibition

Trace the precarious journeys of refugees as they navigate the perils of land, sea and a deadly human landscape riven by geopolitical failure on an unprecedented scale.

This installation responds to three perilous spaces that refugees must navigate: the sea, the national border and the camp.

Featuring original music composed by Brian Eno, a soundscape of voices, the throb of tides, motorways and the human heart, visitors will be invited to interact with three short films activated by movement.

Refreshments will be available with a suggested donation to charity.


I am human: precarious journeys runs from Friday, 18 November to Sunday, 20 November. Free. All welcome.

Part of Being Human 2016 – A festival of the humanities.

Please support the crowdfunding initiative for ‘A Case to Answer‘ – the documentary film directed by Sue Clayton which explores the plight of lone child refugees from the Calais ‘jungle’ and the UK government’s response.



Precarious Trajectories features in new UNICEF ‘Children on the Move’ Research Special


Simon Parker, the principal investigator of the Precarious Trajectories project is one of 5 experts on child migration to feature in a new Research Watch multi-media resource produced by UNICEF’s Innocenti Research Office. Children on the Move includes 4 short films looking at Child Migration and the Law: Status, detention and court proceedingsResearch & Knowledge GapsInsights and Lessons from Recent Experience and Challenges in Protecting the Rights of Migrating Children. Children on the Move also includes two films featuring the testimony of young refugees including Joselyn’s story and Ali and Zafar’s stories. Simon talks about the particular difficulties and challenges experienced by child refugees and migrants in their journeys to Europe and the risks and harms that they are exposed to in their countries of origin, in transit and when they finally reach Europe, and what policies need to be put in place to ensure children’s rights are respected and their voices heard by those in power.




We are a group of research leaders who have been selected by the Economic and Social Research Council to promote greater understanding of the current refugee and migration ‘crisis’ as part of the Mediterranean Migration Research Programme. We welcome the report by the UN Secretary General In Safety and Dignity: Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants and support its recommendation to create a Global Compact for Refugees. It is only through such collective support that effective protection may be achieved.

The report affirms that all migrants are entitled to the respect, protection and full enjoyment of their human rights under core international human rights treaties, regardless of their human rights status and emphasises the need to protect migrants en route, at sea and at borders. Our research on migratory routes and experiences records the precarious journeys refugees undertake in order to reach a place of safety. We note that some nine out of ten migrants never cross the Mediterranean and that the world’s refugee populations are largely contained in poor states in the Middle East and Africa. Hence, we emphasise the obligation of European states to develop a more humanitarian response to the ‘crisis’.

The report also calls upon states to fund data collection for future migration planning, to protect human rights and to advance inclusion. Our research bears out the importance of data collection for the development of sound policy as well as the need for further research on migration. We note that while the UNHCR and its partners have sought to coordinate the provision of aid and assistance to refugees fleeing Syria, within the European Union there has been an absence of joined up thinking, which has undermined the protection of migrants’ rights for all to see. We share the Secretary General’s condemnation of the policy of erecting fences and walls and criminalising migrants. As our research has shown, the vast majority of arrivals to the European Union are people who have fled war and conflict zones and are in urgent need of safety and international protection. The mobility controls that have been erected across much of Europe simply reinforce vulnerability by creating spaces of destitution as we have seen in Calais and elsewhere, situations which never should have been allowed to develop. Rather than promote responsibility sharing, these repressive controls reinforce a beggar-thy-neighbour logic within Europe and shift responsibility onto neighbouring countries such as Greece and Italy — a point criticised by the Secretary General, and with which we concur.

Many commentators have suggested that pull factors including generous benefits are attracting migrants to our shores. Our research found virtually no evidence in support of this view. Having collectively undertaken over 1,000 interviews we can attest that motives for migration are much more complicated and cannot be neatly categorised in a migrant-refugee distinction. Above all, it is the absence of safety and a viable future which encourages people to flee. In order to qualify for refugee status, an individual must demonstrate that they have an objective claim of persecution and are unable or unwilling to avail themselves of protection in their home state. Such persecution may be structural and aimed at particular nationalities, ethnic groups and religious communities. However, pockets of repression exist everywhere and individuals may also suffer persecution even if they are coming from so-called ‘safe’ states. For this reason, it is essential that asylum claims are dealt with in a non-discriminatory manner. We need an adaptable, open and fair system of asylum.

n this context, we share the concerns raised by many human rights commentators and organisations regarding two worrying developments in particular. Firstly, the implementation of an agreement reached between the EU and Turkey, which includes forced collective returns, is neither lawful nor in compliance with the EU’s own Charter of Fundamental Rights. Moreover, Turkey maintained the geographical reservation to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention which limits refugee status to those fleeing Europe and cannot be considered a ‘safe third country.’ Secondly, the newly established ‘hotspots’, a far-reaching mechanism of direct EU-level intervention and administration at the local level, which also includes, consisting of closed reception centres to which humanitarian organisations and lawyers are refused entry, often leaves individuals without access to rights to asylum. In effect, the EU is creating an ever-growing population of illegally detained refugees, including vulnerable men, women and children, who are forced to live in appalling conditions and without recourse to justice.

We support the Secretary General’s call to states to find solutions for refugees including providing resettlement spaces and other legal pathways for admission. This is what responsibility sharing means in practice. Our research has found that the current system of reception is failing, in spite of the efforts of UNHCR, the ICRC and their partners. In many reception centres conditions remain sub-standard, and in those centres that do allow non-state actors access, the efforts of local support networks often stand in where a multitude of institutional actors fail. Moreover, our research indicates that people on the move feel compelled to undertake risky journeys in the absence of legal routes, with many suggesting that they do not have any other option under current conditions. We affirm the British government’s commitment to identifying and protecting vulnerable refugee children, wherever they are. In this context, we welcome the British government’s decision to admit more unaccompanied child refugees from within the European Union and trust that they will move swiftly to provide the protection these children urgently need. However, we also emphasise that more needs to be done in order to open up safe and legal migratory channels, in order that the tragedies repeatedly witnessed over the past several years do not become a normality of our time.

Dr Dia Anagnostou, ELIAMEP, Greece
Dr. Leonie Ansems de Vries, King’s College London, UK
Dr. Alessio d’Angelo, Middlesex University, UK
Martin Baldwin-Edwards, Middlesex University, UK
Professor Brad Blitz, Middlesex University, UK
Professor Sue Clayton, Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK
Professor Heaven Crawley, University of Coventry, UK
Dr. Angeliki Dimitriadi, ELIAMEP
Dr. Franck Duvell, University of Oxford, UK
Dr Jean-Pierre Gauci, People for Change Foundation, Malta
Professor Elspeth Guild, Queen Mary University of London
Dr Charles Heller, Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK
Dr. Elisabeth Kirtsoglou, University of Durham, UK
Professor Eleonore Kofman, Middlesex University, UK
Dr. Daniel Knight, University of St. Andrews, UK
Dr Iosif Kovras, City University London, UK
Dr. Steve Lyon, University of Durham, UK.
Dr. Nicola Montagna, Middlesex University, UK
Dr. Simon Parker, University of York, UK
Professor Joe Painter, University of Durham, UK
Dr Ferruccio Pastore, FIERI, Italy
Dr Lorenzo Pezzani, Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK
Dr. Stavroula Pipyrou, University of St. Andrews, UK.
Dr. Maria Pisani, University of Malta
Dr. Simon Robins, University of York, UK
Dr. Nando Sigona, University of Birmingham, UK
Dr. Vicki Squire, University of Warwick, UK
Dr. Dallal Stevens, University of Warwick, UK
Professor Giorgos Tsimouris, Panteion University Athens, Greece
Professor Nick Vaughan-Williams, University of Warwick, UK
Dr. Antonis Vradis, University of Durham, UK
Professor Eyal Weizman, Goldsmiths, Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK

Launch of ‘Death by Rescue’ Report on anniversary of 18 April shipwreck tragedy


‘The 18th April 2015 marks…the worst peacetime disaster in recent Mediterranean history’



The 18th of April 2016 marks the first anniversary of the tragic sinking of a fishing trawler off the coast of Sicily resulting in the loss of over 800 lives. Only 28 passengers on board the vessel survived. It was the worst peacetime disaster in recent Mediterranean history and the biggest single loss of life in a year that saw 3,735 suspected drownings by those attempting to make the perilous journey to the shores of Europe. However, days earlier on 13 April 2015, more than 400 people were thought to have drowned after another vessel sank some 60 nautical miles from the Libyan coast and 150 survivors were rescued. In just the month of April, shipwrecks cost the lives of over 1,200 refugees in one of the most heavily trafficked sea areas and surrounded by some of the best equipped search and rescue services and air and naval surveillance in the world.

How then was this human catastrophe possible and why do the events of April 2015 mark only the highest point in a rising death toll since the abandonment of the Italian government’s Mare Nostrum operation in October 2014?

The report which is launched on Monday 18 April at the A.M. Qattan Foundation in London (for details and to book a ticket click here) sheds new light on the recent history of national and EU sponsored search and rescue and border control operations since the fatal shipwrecks off the coast of Lampedusa, Sicily in October 2013 that led to the launch of Mare Nostrum.

18042015_ZOOMIN_B_LP2-01According to the detailed forensic research and witness statements collected by the report’s authors, Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani:

  • the merchant vessels involved did everything they possibly could to rescue the passengers in distress
  • the blame for the tragedies does not lie entirely with the smugglers who overcrowded the boats
  • EU agencies and policy makers bear responsibility for ending the Italian Mare Nostrum operation and replacing it with the much more limited Frontex-led Triton operation
  • European policy makers took this decision in full knowledge of the deadly consequences this policy shift would have, and knowingly created the conditions in which these incidents were bound to occur.

Heller and Pezzani comment:

 “Thanks to newly released documents we can show that the rationale for this retreat of state-operated rescue was to act as a deterrent for migrants and smugglers in the aim of stemming crossings”.

The authors will be joined at the launch of the report by Precarious Trajectories Project Director, Dr Simon Parker from the University of York, the Director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, London University Prof. Eyal Weizman, Lord Roberts of Llandudno, the Director of Statewatch, Tony Bunyan and Matteo De Bellis, Amnesty International. Chaired by Prof. Sue Clayton, Director of the Goldsmiths Screen School.

Book a free ticket through Eventbrite.