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Burundian refugees in Nyaragusu refugee camp, Tanzania © UNHCR / B Loyseau
Burundian refugees in Nyaragusu refugee camp, Tanzania

Series convenor: Dr Will Jones

Barbara Harrell-Bond's seminal book Imposing Aid was the first independent appraisal of an assistance programme mounted by international agencies in response to an emergency influx of refugees - in this case the Ugandans who spilled over the Sudanese border in the early months of 1982. Since its publication in 1986, it has been widely hailed as a key text in Anthropology and Refugee Studies, with far-reaching implications for policy and theory. In this series, we reflect on the continuing relevance of the themes raised in Imposing Aid, and its enduring influence on the shape of the discipline: the way humanitarian organisations work or do not work, the critical study of how such organisations may be paternalistic or unaccountable, the conflicts of interest and disparities of power which characterise the interactions between refugees and their ostensible helpers, and the place of refugees in the complex order of international emergency relief settings. Thirty years after the publication of Imposing Aid, these issues remain as urgent as ever.

Time and location

Seminars take place from 5.00-6.30pm in Seminar Room 3, Oxford Department of International Development, 3 Mansfield Road, OX1 3TB. No registration is required and everyone is welcome to attend.

If you would like to receive updates about our public seminars and lectures, please visit our Connect With Us page and subscribe to our email alerts


11 May

Camps as containment: a genealogy of the refugee camp

Kirsten McConnachie (Assistant Professor, School of Law, University of Warwick)


18 May



25 May

Imagining the refugee camp: are camps good for families?

Tania Kaiser (Senior Lecturer in Forced Migration Studies, Department of Development Studies, SOAS)


1 June

‘Food is the best medicine’: displacement, return and good (in)security in the Horn of Africa

Laura Hammond (Reader in Development Studies, Department of Development Studies, SOAS)