WiSe 18/19: Processes of Refuge Seeking in 20th Century Africa and Beyond
Marcia C. Schenck
Information for students
Die erste Sitzung findet am 23.10.2018 statt.
This course examines processes of refuge seeking, bringing refugee studies and history into conversation. Drawing on case studies mainly from 20th century Africa, we ask what a refugee is and whether ... read more
This course examines processes of refuge seeking, bringing refugee studies and history into conversation. Drawing on case studies mainly from 20th century Africa, we ask what a refugee is and whether we can speak of a common refugee experience. We explore whether historians can and should distinguish between refugees, forced migrants and exiles. To do so, we draw on literature from a variety of disciplines including history, anthropology, political science and law. The selected case studies cover East, West, South and North African and European contexts.
The course is designed to introduce students to the nascent and vibrant research field of the historical study of refugees and forced migrants on the African continent. Students will have gained a grasp of the field and its most important research questions and challenges by the end of the course. The course is organized thematically: it starts by discussing why studying processes of refuge seeking in historical perspective is important. It provides key readings that orient students in the debates about refugee vs. forced migration studies before delving into case studies dedicated to a range of issues concerning the lived experiences of forced migrants in camps, in political exile, their relations with host populations, and with the sending and receiving states. Other topics concern the political and legal management and perception of refugees by states and international organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Organization for African Unity (OAU). The course ends by considering recent refugee movements to Europe in historic perspective.
Some of the questions that motivate this course are: Who is a refugee, forced migrant, exile and how do definitions and perceptions change during the 20th century? What are refugee experiences like and how do they vary over time and in different geographic areas? What role did colonialism, the decolonization process and the cold war play with regard to creating, classifying and managing refugee flows in Africa and beyond? How does forced migration bring Africa into global history? And how can we look at the recent refugee crisis historically?
Sample readings include:
Chimni, B.S. "The Birth of a Discipline: From Refugee to Forced Migration Studies." Journal of Refugee Studies 22, no. 1 (2009): 11-29.
Glasman, Joël. "Seeing Like a Refugee Agency: A Short History of UNHCR Classifications in Central Africa (1961-2015)." Journal of Refugee Studies 30, no. 2 (2017): 337–62.
Okoth-Obbo, George. "Thirty Years On: A Legal Review of the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa." Refugee Survey Quarterly 20, no. 1 (2001): 79-138.
Rosenthal, Jill. "From ‘Migrants’ to ‘Refugees’: Identity, Aid, and Decolonization in Ngara District, Tanzania." Journal of African History 56 (2015): 261-79.