"intellectual sanctuary and acts of solidarity"
My research is entitled The Plight of Eritrean Refugees in a Carceral Age. My supervisors are Professor Alison Phipps and Professor Fergus McNeill. For me, the PhD experience has been transformational. It has made a lasting difference on my thought process, way of life and career ambitions.
In the last ten years, I found myself fixed in a continuum of extralegality that I aspire to understand. Likewise, I am stunned by the experiences of the refugees that I came across in my extensive work with them. I came across forced migrants who survived intolerable persecution in their home countries and continued to suffer from human trafficking, torture, and marginalisation elsewhere. Stripped of their human dignity and exiled into realms of egregious violence, these groups of people are barred to face precarious life or perhaps death in detention centres, at borders, in the sea, and in deserts. Many thousands die in human trafficking in transit countries; others lose their lives by drowning when attempting to cross the sea. At this moment in time, refugees are facing ‘modern slavery’ in Libya and arbitrary detention and uncertain future in transit countries such as Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt and Israel. Moreover, forced migrants continue to be exceptionalised in destinations such as the EU and the Americas.
But why? Investigating this question is not just my passion but also my life-long ambition. So, my plan for after graduation is to continue my research work as well as push for change. Here, I am thinking of postgraduate fellowships, research opportunities or even developing collaborative research projects.
My PhD studies have had a huge impact on my work plans. It opened new possibilities, opportunities and networks. At personal level, studying at the University of Glasgow offered me an intellectual sanctuary. For me, the unconditional support I have received and continue to receive from my supervisors, the University and all the academic community are acts of collective solidarity. Without the intellectual sanctuary and acts of solidarity, my improbable journey would have been a deferred dream.
Currently, I work in volunteer and paid positions in addition to my PhD project. I am a volunteer member of the management committee for Right to Remain Ltd and, also, most recently, appointed as a new member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland (YAS). I have also been working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) at the University of Glasgow, School of Education, since April 2020. Lastly, but not least, I am an active community member and always volunteer to help stigmatised and disenfranchised groups of people to explore their natural potential of resilience, more so than ever during the current tumultuous times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Working in such roles, I have handled diverse community needs and interpersonal issues with promptness, tact, discretion and with full regard for the rights and best interests of all the individuals and communities I work with.
I can mention a lot here but if I had to choose only one outstanding memory, it has to be the 2019 Spring School organised by my supervisor, Prof. Alison Phipps. To be honest, the monthly supervisions I have with my supervisors are also outstanding memories. Professors Alison Phipps and Fergus McNeill have not only been my supervisors but also friends and a family. And I say so with gratitude and humbleness
Hyab Teklehaimanot Yohannes (2020) Commentary, Language and Intercultural Communication, DOI: 10.1080/14708477.2020.1722689
Hyab Teklehaimanot Yohannes (2018) ‘Born rightless, die rightless’, Right to Remain, Link: https://righttoremain.org.uk/born-rightless-die-rightless/