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Public Seminar Series, Hilary term 2020

Feminism, Categorisation and Forced Migration

This interdisciplinary series will explore a range of topics in refugee law, politics and history with particular attention being paid to feminist and/or gendered approaches to displacement and mobility and the categorisation(s) of people as ‘refugees’, ‘citizens’, ‘settlers’ or ‘migrants’.

Series convener: Catherine Briddick, Martin James Departmental Lecturer in Gender and Forced Migration

Download the series poster 

About the seminar

Recent years have seen much attention, media and political, given to the movement of people. This is especially the case in terms of the extraordinary movements precipitated by war, famine, and the ravages of global warming, that have produced refugees in seemingly greater numbers. They have also produced hostile responses with the building of walls and fences, the denial of aid and solidarity, and changes to citizenship laws which have often turned citizens into migrants to be policed even more harshly. Global crises related to the movement of populations recur with relative regularity and yet each is presented as unprecedented, reproducing the idea of crisis in the process. This occurs not just in media representations and political debate, but also in academic accounts of migration which often use similar framings in their analyses. In this talk, I argue for the need to take colonial histories seriously in our understandings of contemporary migration. The population movements from Europe to the New World and beyond coalesced, over four centuries, into a phenomenon that was markedly different from these other quotidian movements and encounters. This is because European movement was linked to colonial settlement which was central to the displacement, dispossession, and elimination of populations across the globe. It was also central to the creation of the global inequalities and injustices that mark the worlds we share in common and that are the basis of contemporary movements of peoples. Without understanding the histories that produced these inequalities we are unlikely to understand contemporary movements.

About the speaker

Gurminder K Bhambra is Professor of Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies in the Department of International Relations in the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex.

Previously, she was Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick and also Guest Professor of Sociology and History at the Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, Linnaeus University, Sweden (2016-18). In March 2017, she was Visiting Professor at EHESS, Paris; for the academic year 2014-15, she was Visiting Fellow in the Department of Sociology, Princeton University and Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. She has also held a Visiting Position at the Department of Sociology, University of Brasilia, Brazil; and is affiliated with REMESO, Linköping University, Sweden.


Listen to the podcast 


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

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