Fall 2023 Workshop: Refugees, Dehumanization, and Rehumanization: A Practical, Pedagogical Workshop for K-14 Educators

Featured speakers:

  • Tyrell Haberkorn (Professor of Southeast Asian Studies at UW-Madison)
  • Sara McKinnon (Professor of Rhetoric, Politics & Culture at UW-Madison)
  • Ingrid Jordt (Associate Professor of Anthropology at UW-Milwaukee)

Resources from the workshop now posted (below).

For more information, see below or please contact Mary McCoy at mccoy2@wisc.edu or Sarah Ripp at skripp@wisc.edu.

Refugees, Dehumanization, and Rehumanization:
A Practical, Pedagogical Workshop for K-14 Educators

November 4, 2023

In coming decades, we are likely to see rising numbers of refugees worldwide, reaching up to 1.2 billion people in motion by 2050. This workshop offered ideas and information useful to teaching current students in the context of past and impending global transformations that will define their generation. Experts on Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the United States discussed the processes that dehumanize refugees, along with ways to re-humanize them and counter dangerous trends that can lead to indifference, fear or violence. The workshop continued conversations from “The Growing Crisis of Refugees and Statelessness” workshop of 2020, while offering new insights on unfolding events and optimistic perspectives on possibilities for the future.


From participants:

  • “This has been a wonderful workshop. I’ve learned much from the excellent speakers as well as by workshopping with participants. I have directly applicable takeaways for enhancing my curricula and supporting migrant students at my institution.”
  • “A welcome and inclusive environment.”
  • “Loved that we got to interact with the speakers!”
  • “100 million refugees and counting… good Lord, we need this!”
  • “The speakers were great! I especially liked the inclusion of the Six Pillars of the Cultural Wealth Model.”
  • “I very much appreciated the opportunity to network with other educators that led to a helpful resource list.”

• Participants received a professional development digital badge from Madison College.

SATURDAY, 4 November | 9:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M. Central Time

Introduction to the workshop on November 4th by Geoff Bradshaw, Mary McCoy, and Sarah Ripp.

Displacement, Migration, and Asylum from South to North America

9:15-10:00 A.M. 

Presented by Professor Sara McKinnon – Department of Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin-Madison

About the presentation:

This talk provides context for audiences to understand the current global migration of people from South America to claim asylum in the United States, and what asylum seekers will encounter when they apply for asylum.

“Invisible Before the Law: Statelessness and Humanity”

10:00-10:45 A.M. 

Presented by Professor Tyrell Haberkorn – Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Wisconsin-Madison

About the presentation:

What is it to become stateless, and what does it mean in terms of both identity and practical concerns? Beginning with thinking about philosophers of statelessness, namely Hannah Arendt and Giorgio Agamben, and then turning to international law and several examples from the Holocaust to Guantanamo, this talk explores the making of who is human and who is not.

Break – 10:45 AM

Restorative Approaches to Communal Dignity: Some Notes on Rohingya Refugee Experiences

11:00-11:45 A.M. 

Presented by Professor Ingrid Jordt – Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

About the presentation:

Dehumanizing and rehumanizing practices are explored in the context of Rohingya experiences of genocide and statelessness. The talk invites us to examine how we, as educators, might situate learning in the social processes of the refugee through restorative strategies of care and repair.

Lunch – 11:45 AM

Sharing and Feedback Session – 1:00 PM

Closing – 2:50 PM

Tyrell Haberkorn is a Professor of Southeast Asian Studies in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and co-chair of the Human Rights Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She researches and writes about state violence and dissident cultural politics in Thailand from the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932 until the present. She first traveled to Thailand in 1997 to be part of international feminist labor solidarity, and this became the basis for the past twenty years of working across academic and activist lines to challenge state repression and other forms of injustice. She is currently working on a first draft of an indictment of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the military junta that took power in the 22 May 2014 coup and also writing about the history of radical imagination for a more just and democratic future in Thailand through the life of Supot Dantrakul, a political prisoner, dissident, and organic intellectual active between the 1950s and the 2000s.

Ingrid Jordt is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Program for Global Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her past and current research has concerned processes of political legitimation, lay/monastic relations in Buddhist Burma, and Buddhist meditation movements in Mainland Southeast Asia. Her principal field site is Burma/Myanmar, where she has been working since 1988, but she has conducted research concerning the export of Burmese Vipassana meditation in Thailand, Malaysia and Laos. She is the author of Burma’s Mass Lay Meditation Movement: Buddhism and the Cultural Construction of Power (Ohio University Press, 2007). In addition to her academic research, Ingrid has been engaged in humanitarian projects and has served in an advisory role to US government agencies. In 2007-2008, she formed Burma Rescue, an effort coordinated with civil society groups in Burma’s Irrawaddy Delta region to bring resources to victims of Cyclone Nargis when the military government was blocking aid from entering the country. Ingrid grew up in Liberia, Korea, India and Singapore before returning to the US to attend the University of California at Berkeley. Her interest in Burma stems to a period after college during which she was ordained as a Buddhist nun and undertook silent meditation in Yangon. She completed her PhD in anthropology at Harvard University in 2001.

Sara McKinnon is a Professor of Rhetoric, Politics & Culture in the Department of Communication Arts, Director of the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program (LACIS), and co-chair of the Human Rights Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with affiliations in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and Chican@ & Latin@ Studies. Her research examines foreign policy rhetoric in an era of globalization, considering as case studies collaborations between the United States, Mexico, and Central American countries since the 1980s to address regional issues, such as drug trafficking, corruption, and migration. She is also working on a collaborative project to expand the information about US immigration and refugee programs and legal counsel available to migrants throughout Latin America as they consider safe options for movement and resettlement.


For more information on this event, please contact Mary McCoy at mccoy2@wisc.edu or Sarah Ripp at skripp@wisc.edu.

Resources for Educators

“Refugees, Dehumanization, and Rehumanization: A Practical, Pedagogical Workshop for K-14 Educators”
November 4, 2023

Resources provided by speaker Sara McKinnon:

Resources provided by speaker Tyrell Haberkorn:

Resources provided by speaker Ingrid Jordt:


  • Resource Guide for Runner film shown Friday eveningTo inquire about working with your institution to arrange a screening or arrange purchase of the film, go to this link, or contact Bullfrog Films at: info@bullfrogfilms.com. Prices vary by institution and circumstances. UW-Madison has the film in our library collection, and so if you have access to our library system, you also have access to the film. PBS also has a free version available here.

Resources from Participants:

  • Voices of the Valley: Immigrant Stories from Studies of Chippewa Valley Technical College, Vol. 1
  • A good app for making video compilations of students: https://info.flip.com/en-us.html
  • Bob Enright’s work on forgiveness could be valuable as refugees process their experiences. He has help bring understanding among groups around the world through his education programs: https://edpsych.education.wisc.edu/staff/enright-robert/
  • Madison College offers free classes for people to get a High School Equivalency Degree (HSED).  We have many options for the HSED. We offer this in English and Spanish and are accustomed to working with immigrants from all over the world who speak many different languages.  Students do need to have a basic level of English or Spanish literacy skills for them to enroll.  We offer free ESL classes to help them get to the level they need. Most of our programs are for students 18 ½ years old or older, but we also have Comp Law, which is for Spanish or English speaking High School students.
  • The Compulsory Attendance Law (Wisconsin Statute 118.15) allows 17 to 18 1/2 year old students to modify their high school curriculum with the written approval of their parents/guardians and the school board and enroll in a program leading to a High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) given to them by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. A contract will be done between Madison College, the school district and the student, along with their parent/guardian if student is not 18.
    • Class is Monday-Friday 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
    • Students must attend 15 hours per week.
    • Test fees are $145 and is the responsibility of the school district to pay.
    • To get started please contact Leah Wiseman or Amparo Morano at 608.258.2435 or lwiseman@madisoncollege.edu
  • Madison College also has an option for adults in Spanish and English called the 5.09 HSED.  This is when students take structured courses to show competency in 8 subjects.  It takes about 1 year to complete.  You can find out more in the link here.