Date of Submission

Spring 2023

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

Ruth Zisman

Abstract/Artist's Statement

One cannot comprehend the topography of our contemporary globe without seeing the chain-link lines that fractalize sand, sea, and soil. Contemporary global politics is marked by a refugee crisis of colossal proportion. At its core, the contemporary refugee crisis is perpetuated by the fact that there is no framework to apprehend the personhood of the refugee, let alone an organized and attentive global process for directing the flow of vulnerable persons toward safety.

I argue that in order to ease the burdens placed on vulnerable people we must return to philosophy and look at the refugee crisis for what it is: A political issue that affects the entire globe and all of humanity, requiring a new philosophical framework to confront it with. The philosophical framework necessary to respond to the urgency of the contemporary refugee crisis lies in crafting a new guarantee for dignity.

Dignity is the kingpin of refugeedom because it is exactly what is decimated as a person becomes branded as a refugee. I define dignity as the basis for the recognition of personhood. Dignity requires having both agency and worth in relation to others, and being valued without prejudice as a distinct and equal being. If we do not treat refugees with dignity, we cannot value, or even hear their voices. To lack dignity is to lack personhood.

Ultimately, in this thesis, I will endeavor to prove once and for all that humanity is in fact more powerful together than we are apart. I argue that collective power is the only apparatus in which our dignity can be mutually recognized. We see that empathy is the backbone of revolution, not violence. It is only by seeking out the middle ground that exists between all of us that we can glide into a new world, one that we have created together and in the name of dignity. I will excavate Arendt’s theory of the loss of dignity and the human condition of plurality, Judith Butler’s theory of precarious life in relation to human mortality, and Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s theory of a unified Nos/Otras to interrogate if they provide a grounded and sustainable philosophical principle for the guarantee of dignity.

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Open Access

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