Today, deterring conditions for human rights and freedom of expression bring millions of people on the move. Writers, journalists and artists who speak truth power and safeguard civil rights and free speech, increasingly become targets of governments and other actors attempting to silence them. Many are forced to flee, to overcome barriers, cross borders, and to seek refuge far from home.
Exile is by definition about loss, suffering, of being uprooted from ones’ native land, family, culture, identity. But can displacement from the familiar also mean new beginnings, new possibilities, new ways of belonging? Can home be a concept that encompasses multiple locations, in a more diverse, dynamic and interdependent world? With the space to express oneself freely, can language and other artistic expressions be the refuge an artist needs to dwell and create freely, and continue to be a voice for change?
Both PEN International and ICORN are dedicated to creating opportunities for writers and artists to move freely – intellectually, culturally, physically. Cities are becoming important actors for hospitality, solidarity and creativity, and since 2006, more than 200 writers, journalists and artists have found safety and the opportunity to continue to work and be vocal in an ICORN residency.
At Home, Everywhere
Under the title At Home, Everywhere, more than 300 writers, artists, activists, city representatives, sister networks and experts from around the globe will meet in Rotterdam 29-31 May 2019 for the biennial ICORN Network Meeting and PEN International WiPC Conference, to explore what it means to be at home in today’s world, and what it means to be bereft of it. We will discuss the role of cities and communities in supporting writers, journalists and artists, so they can continue to raise awareness globally and be change actors for democratic values and freedom of expression.
Participants will engage in seminars, training workshops, readings, concerts and manifestations on topics such as writing & literary culture in exile; countering xenophobia; protection and support mechanisms for writers and artists, and; digital security and security planning. There will be artistic events and interventions, and eyewitness reports from areas where writers, artists and human rights defenders are most under threat. PEN International’s Make Space campaign, promoting human rights and creative writing of displaced and exiled writers, will be a key topic.
A true cosmopolite and a constant wanderer between countries and continents, Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536) rejected old convictions and prejudices and fought for a more free, just and enlightened humanity. This will guide and inspire our meeting in Rotterdam, as will our excellent contemporary hosts, Verhalenhuis Belvedere, Dutch PEN and the Municipality of Rotterdam. The main venue for At Home, Everywhere - The ICORN Network Meeting & PEN International WiPC Conference is the ship SS Rotterdam, which had its maiden voyage in 1959 from Rotterdam to New York, and for years carried Dutch migrants to the United States of America, in search and hope of a new home.
Registration will start in January 2019.