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About the lecture

In 2020, the world has gone into lockdown. As the COVID-19 virus spreads to virtually every community around the globe, more than a quarter of its citizens are living under some form of restricted movement. For migrants, refugees, and others for whom mobility is an essential, even a life-saving act, these restrictions pose particular risks. Border closures, internal movement restrictions, social distancing orders, and the economic implications of the closures of businesses and workplaces are all having specific and harmful effects on migrants and displaced persons. At the same time mobile populations have become even greater targets of suspicion, fear and hostility. In this lecture I consider the legacy of Elizabeth Colson’s work – her focus on careful, patient, attention to detail, her investigation of inequalities and social disruption, and her fascination with the creative ways that people respond to such challenges to explore how forced migration studies might help us to better understand the monumental implications of the coronavirus pandemic on communities involved or affected by migration and displacement.

About the speaker

Laura Hammond is Professor of Development Studies in the Department of Development Studies, SOAS University of London. She is an anthropologist (PhD University of Wisconsin-Madison), her research interests including food security, conflict, forced migration, and diasporas. She is Challenge Leader for Security, Protracted Conflict, Refugees and Forced Displacement for the Global Challenges Research Fund, Head of the London International Development Centre's Migration Leadership Team, and Team Leader for the Research and Evidence Facility (Horn of Africa Window) of the European Union Trust Fund for Africa. She also is Chair of the Independent Advisory Group for Country Information. She has worked in the Horn of Africa since 1993 (with a particular emphasis on Ethiopia and Somalia/Somaliland), and has done consultancy for a wide range of development and humanitarian organizations, including UNDP, USAID, Oxfam, Medécins Sans Frontières, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the World Food Programme. She is the author of This Place Will Become Home: Refugee Repatriation to Ethiopia (Cornell University Press: 2004), co-editor with Johan Pottier and Christopher Cramer of Researching Violence in Africa: Ethical and Methodological Challenges (Brill: 2011) and many book and journal articles. 


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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.

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