The journalistic language of power and our relentless asylum policy

The journalistic language of power and our relentless asylum policy

Behrouz Boochani - Kristina Quintano - Stella Mililli

We are thrilled to invite you all to the exceptional talk “The journalistic language of power and our relentless asylum policy. Behrouz Boochani in conversation with Kristina Quintano.” 

When Iranian-Kurdish journalist and author Behrouz Boochani was rescued in 2013 after a week on the open sea, he was four days late. Boochani fled Iran via Indonesia with Australia as a target. His only desire was to continue his work as a journalist in a country where he did not fear for his life.

Twice Boochani attempted to make his way by sea from Indonesia to Australia. If the first boat the smugglers sent him out to sea in had not sunk, the history of the now award-winning author would have looked completely different. Behrouz Boochani was rescued from drowning at the last minute, and when he tried to flee the sea in a small white fishing boat again two weeks later, he did not know that Australia had just introduced a new law, and that the Pacific Solution now entailed a very inhuman asylum policy. In his book No friends but the mountains (2018), we get a rare insight into what has been going on behind the closedbarbed wire fences on Manus and Nauru over the past twenty years.

In a conversation about how we both treat and refer to displaced people today, Boochani and Kristina Quintano draw parallels between Australia’s and Europe’s asylum policies. They talk about locking people up on islands, what being cut off from the outside world does to people and not least they talk about the language used in public discourse today to refer to people fleeing.

Kristina Quintano will give an introductory mini-lecture on the situation in and around the Mediterranean today and about the absence of search and rescue before inviting Boochani into the conversation from New Zealand. The conversation will take place in English and be moderated by Stella Mililli.

The event is a joint venture between scholars from NTNU and Migration Literature Week 2021. Migration Literature Week, which saw its first edition last year, is organized by Literature for Inclusion initiative, led by Gulabuddin Sukhanwar in collaboration with Trondheim friby, Hanna Musiol, Associate Professor of English at NTNU, and NTNU’s research project TransLit: Sustainable Ethics, Affects, and Pedagogies led by Associate Professor of Literature in English, Libe García Zarranz, and Stella Mililli’s doctoral project YA Refugee Literature: Developing Sustainable Literacy in the EFL Classroom.

When: Tuesday, September 7th at 10.00

Where: Live stream on Facebook


Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish-Iranian writer, journalist, academic, cultural mediator and filmmaker. He has written for the Kurdish magazine Werya, is an honorary member of PEN International, has won Amnesty International Australia’s 2017 Media Award and the Anna Politkovskaya Journalist Prize in 2018. He writes regularly for The Guardian and has also delivered articles in The Huffington Post, New Matilda, The Financial Times and The Sydney Morning Herald. Boochani is co-director (with Arash Kamali Sarvestani) of the feature film Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time (2017). No friends but the mountains (2018) is his first book and for it he won Australia’s most prestigious literature prize, the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Literature. Since autumn 2019, Boochani has been in New Zealand, where in June 2020 he was granted refugee status and thus permanent residence.

Kristina Quintano is a journalist, translator, author and publisher. She is a literary scholar and runs Quintano Publishing House. Quintano is an active member of Norwegian PEN, NFFO and Norsk Journalistlag and sits on the freelance committee of NFFO, on the committee of the Nonfiction Festival and is the leader of the newly established Escape Festival. As half Norwegian and half Maltese, she has been documenting the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean for almost twenty years. She has worked as an aid worker both on the Mediterranean and in Lebanon. Through her Facebook blog Messenger from Hell, she provides daily updates from the refugee crisis around the Mediterranean. The blog has 15,000 followers and an average of 100,000 views daily. Kristina was the first to receive the newly created Contemporary Prize which goes to people who engage in the most burning questions of our time, and who manage to bring important topics to daily discussions. In the autumn of 2021, she publishes the books Messenger from Hell and The Boy on the Beach – the story of Alan Kurdi.

Stella Mililli is a PhD candidate in English at the Department of Teacher Education at NTNU, Trondheim, with her project “YA Refugee Literature: Developing Sustainable Literacy in the EFL Classroom». She is interested in studying the ethics and poetics of refugee representations in literature for Young Adults and their affective implications in the classroom setting.


7. sep 2021


10.00 - 12.00


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