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RSC Public Seminar Series, Michaelmas Term: Refugee Economies

Conveners: Alexander Betts and Naohiko Omata

In recent academic and policy arenas in forced migration, the issue of how to understand refugees’ economic lives has emerged as one of the most pressing agendas. This seminar series will therefore gather leading scholars who have been working on related issues in order to consolidate the empirical and theoretical knowledge of refugee economies. Speakers will be convened from diverse and inter-disciplinary backgrounds from anthropology, economics, and political science. In addition to knowledge building, this seminar series is intended to initiate nurturing wider networks of researchers working on economic lives of refugees and to establish a common space for exchanging ideas, discussing findings and challenges.

This week Professor Amanda Hammar will speak on the topic 'Displacement economies: thinking through the paradoxes of crisis and creativity':

This lecture draws on and extends beyond the work captured in a recent edited volume on Displacement Economies in Africa (Zed Press, 2014). It continues with the ‘restorative ambition’ to make visible the various interactive spaces, temporalities, social and political relationalities and changing dynamics of production and exchange, that displacement paradoxically generates but which are often hidden from view. Attention will be given to the evolution of displacement economies as conceptual/analytical framework, and as empirical object. These dimensions will be illustrated primarily through examples from past and ongoing research in Zimbabwe. 

About the speaker

Amanda Hammar is Director and MSO Professor in African Studies at the Centre of African Studies (CAS) at the University of Copenhagen. Her core research interests combine political economy and cultural politics approaches, and the use of ethnography among other methods, to understand the dynamics and spaces of social, economic, political and physical exclusion/inclusion in both agrarian and urban settings, at smaller and larger scales. She is particularly concerned with how these processes unfold and generate change – both symbolic and material – in contexts of displacement and crisis. Within this general framing, she has a special interest in the relationship between sustained crisis and different dimensions of state making and citizen making. She is responsible for the Research Platform at CAS on ‘Sovereignties and Citizenship’. Geographically, most of her work has been focused on southern Africa, particularly Zimbabwe and to a lesser extent Mozambique. Her most recently concluded project has been on Political Economies of Displacement, culminating in an edited volume entitled Displacement Economies in Africa: Paradoxes of Crisis and Creativity. In addition to being a strongly empirically grounded collection (with cases from across the continent), its ambitions include a theoretical challenge to more classic conceptualisations of displacement.