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Despite some sporadic works on the history of international displacement and refugee protection these issues are largely absent in historiography and in turn, historiography is mostly absent in Refugee Studies. Due to a traditionally presentist outlook Refugee Studies often lacks rigorous historical research, with some notable exceptions. Refugee research is often limited to anecdotal perspectives on past events because historiographical methods, theories and secondary literature are seldom applied to issues of forced migration and therefore absent from most conceptual considerations regarding refugees.

This workshop will foster exchange and discussion about relevance, methods and problems of historiographical research in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. It will emphasise the past as a crucial framework for the analysis of historical developments, of central terms and concepts as well as institutions, actors and regimes by which refugee laws and policies are negotiated. The workshop is particularly focused on epistemological challenges of historical refugee research, like the production of and access to sources. It will also interrogate how socio-political frameworks impact reconstructions of the past, in particular in social and political memories. The inclusion of the past in refugee studies poses ultimately, a number of ethical and normative questions, like the control of historical interpretations and claims of historical justice.

Workshop participants will discuss and analyse these challenges systematically to give impulses for more historical and historically aware Refugee Studies. Some of the questions under discussion will be:

  • Which role do references to the past play in national and international refugee politics?
  • hat can historiography contribute to refugee research across disciplines? How can a historical perspective help understand situations of flight and refugee policies?
  • Which historiographical methods (like archival research, oral history etc.) can contribute to Refugee Studies and what are their limits?
  • How do refugees remember displacement and flight? How does that and social memories of the receiving society impact their self-perception and belonging in the country of asylum?

We invite all members of the RSC, including DPhil students, to participate in the workshop. In particular, we hope to bring together RSC and network members to enable stimulating discussion and fruitful exchange about the potentials of history and memory in refugee research.

Please register for attendance in the workshop by 23.10.2015:

About DFG Network ‘Foundations of Refugee Research’:

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