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Public Seminar Series Michaelmas term 2020

Series convenors: Professor Matthew J Gibney and Professor Tom Scott-Smith

About the seminar

With their clearly demarcated borders, their monotonous housing and grid-like infrastructures, refugee settlements, shelters, hotspots and deportation sites stick out like a sore thumb in the landscape and give us the impression of being exceptional spaces. We would assume that the camp as a place of waiting and confinement surely leads to a sense of stuckness for those who are forced to live there. However, we should not let the aesthetics of the camp – its straight lines and monotonous housing – lead us to assume that life in the camps is simply set on stand-by. Similarly, we should not assume that the official objective of confinement – of stopping movement – is achieved. Empirical, ethnographic studies reveal that life in camps is more complex. While camps might at first sight signal immobility, they may also act as junctions for onward mobility. They may be perceived – and used – as steppingstones or waiting rooms for onward mobility. This is what my colleagues and I have termed ‘carceral junctions’; places that simultaneously incarcerate and connect. Related to this, we must not assume a link between physical immobility and existential stuckness, just as we must not equate mobility with freedom and agency.

In my presentation, I will try to unpack the concepts of confinement, stuckness and (im)mobility in relation to camps. Central to my chapter will be to add temporality to a debate that easily lends itself to spatial analyses. I will discuss how questions of anticipation – both in the sense of hope and in the sense of anxiety – qualify the sense of stuckness, arguing that stuckness is a question of whether one is able to see possible futures.

About the speaker

Simon Turner is Associate Professor at the Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen. His research interests include: gender - in particular masculinities; refugees - in particular refugee camps and humanitarian organizations; ethnic conflict and genocide; diaspora; invisibility, secrecy, rumours and conspiracy theories; and Burundi and Rwanda.


This seminar will be held via Zoom.

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Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture

The Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture is held in Trinity term. It is named after Professor Elizabeth Colson, a renowned anthropologist.

Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture

The Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture is named in honour of Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond, the founding Director of the Refugee Studies Centre. It is held each year in Michaelmas term.

Public Seminar Series

Each term the RSC holds a series of public seminars, held on Wednesday evenings at Queen Elizabeth House. Click here for details of forthcoming seminars.

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Forthcoming events

Book launch: The Politics of Crisis-Making: Forced Displacement and Cultures of Assistance in Lebanon

Wednesday, 29 May 2024, 5pm to 6pm @ Seminar Room 1, Queen Elizabeth House, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB

Skilled worker visas for refugees – a qualitative evaluation of the UK’s Displaced Talent Mobility Pilot

Wednesday, 05 June 2024, 5pm to 6pm @ Seminar Room 1, Queen Elizabeth House, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB

A celebration of the life of David Turton

Saturday, 20 July 2024, 2pm to 3pm @ The Crypt Cafe, St Peters Church, Northchurch Terrace, London N1 4DA