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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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Watch the video on YouTube

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.

Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture

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

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

SEMINAR CANCELLED | The digital border and its techno-symbolic assemblages of power

Tuesday, 21 February 2023, 1pm to 2pm @ Seminar Room 2, Oxford Department of International Development, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB

SEMINAR CANCELLED | Asylum, digital surveillance and platform power

Tuesday, 28 February 2023, 1pm to 2pm @ Seminar Room 2, Oxford Department of International Development, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB

Public Law as Infrastructure of Imperial Governance

Tuesday, 07 March 2023, 9.20am to 6.15pm @ Sir Joseph Hotung Auditorium, Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, Mansfield College, Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3TF

Palestine Refugees and International Law

Friday, 10 March 2023 to Saturday, 11 March 2023 @ University of Macedonia, Egnatia 156, Thessaloniki 546 36, Greece

CANCELLED - Recognising Refugees | RSC Conference 2023

Monday, 20 March 2023 to Tuesday, 21 March 2023 @ Keble College, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PG