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Professor Kirsten McConnachie gives the Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture 2022 at Queen Elizabeth House

Elizabeth Colson© Alan MacfarlaneThe Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture is held each Trinity term. It is named in honour of Professor Elizabeth Colson (1917-2016), a renowned anthropologist, who was Professor Emerita of Anthropology at the University of California, and director of the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute in Zambia from 1947 to 1951. All of Colson’s work was solidly anchored in ethnography. She is best known for her long-term study of the Tonga people of the Gwembe Valley in Zambia and Zimbabwe. This research directly contributed to academic discussions of resettlement, migration, and refugee communities in applied and development anthropology.



Lectures include

●  November 2023

Discrimination and Delegation: Explaining State Responses to Refugees | Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture 2023

Dr Lamis E. Abdelaaty (Associate Professor of Political Science, Syracuse University)


●  June 2022

Bordering and Ordering among Refugees from Burma/Myanmar

Professor Kirsten McConnachie (University of East Anglia)


●  May 2021

The Afterlives of Return and the Limits of Refugee Protection

Professor Heath Cabot (University of Pittsburgh)


●  June 2020

Mobility and immobility in the time of coronavirus: reflections from long-term study of migration and displacement

Professor Laura Hammond (SOAS University of London)


●  June 2019

A Mobile Milieu: Humanitarian Equipment and the Politics of Need

Professor Peter Redfield (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)


●  June 2018

“Let language not betray us”: immigration, enforcement and modern slavery

Professor Bridget Anderson (University of Bristol)


●   May 2017

Nostalgia and legitimacy: understanding the externalization of European migration policy

Professor Thomas Spijkerboer (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)


●   May 2016

Peaceland: conflict resolution and the everyday politics of international intervention

Séverine Autesserre (Associate Professor of Political Science, Barnard College, Columbia University)


●   June 2015

Innocence: understanding a political concept 

Professor Miriam Ticktin (Associate Professor of Anthropology, The New School for Social Research, New York)


●   June 2014

Impossible situations: affective impasses and their afterlives in humanitarian and ethnographic fieldwork (Lecture cancelled)

Professor Liisa Malkki (Associate Professor of Anthropology, Stanford University)


●   May 2013

Tracks across sand: the dispossession of the ‡Khomani San of the southern Kalahari

Professor Hugh Brody (Associate of the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, and Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies, University of the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, Canada)


●   June 2012

States, sovereignties and refugees: a view from the margins?

Professor Alessandro Monsutti (Department of Anthropology and Sociology of Development, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva)


●   June 2011

The vanishing truth of refugees

Professor Didier Fassin (James D Wolfensohn Professor of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, and Director of Studies, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris)


●   May 2010

The complexity of powerlessness: what makes human rights law perform?

Professor Saskia Sassen (Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and Member, The Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University)


●   May 2009

Fractures and flows: Africa, Elizabeth Colson, and the current global meltdown

Professor Carolyn R Nordstrom (Professor of Anthropology at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, Notre Dame University)


●   May 2008

Zomia, a zone of resistance: the last great enclosure movement and stateless peoples in Southeast Asia

Professor James C. Scott (Sterling Professor of Political Science, Yale University)


●   May 2007

Development and emergency: containing the migratory effects of underdevelopment

Professor Mark Duffield (Professor of Development Politics, University of Bristol)


●   May 2006

Persecution for reasons of religion under the 1951 Refugee Convention: an anthropological approach

Professor Anthony Good (Professor Emeritus and Professorial Fellow at the School of Social and Political Studies, University of Edinburgh)


●   June 2005

Paradoxes of self-determination

Professor Wendy James (St Cross College, University of Oxford)


●   May 2004

The meaning of place in a world of movement: lessons from long-term field research in Southern Ethiopia

Dr David Turton (former Director of the RSC)


●   June 2003

Does asylum have a future?

Aristide Zolberg (Professor of Political Science, New School University, New York)


●   May 2002

Popular struggles for justice: the fifth pillar of democracy

Medha Patkar (founder, principal spokesperson and key organiser of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), the people’s movement dedicated to opposing the construction of a series of dams on the Narmada river in northwest India)


●   June 2001

Surpassing nostalgia: personhood and the experience of displacement

Dr Renée Hirschon (St Peter’s College, University of Oxford)


●   May 2000

Speaking bitterness, seeking justice: a memorial movement on the Yellow River

Professor Jun Jing (Associate Professor of Social Anthropology, Qinghua University, Beijing, China)


●   May 1999

Half-life of the Ottoman Empire: long-term studies of four communities, 1895-1995

Professor Peter Loizos (London School of Economics and Political Science)


●   May 1998

Economics, the private sector and human rights: open issues in population resettlement

Michael Cernea (non-resident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy, Brookings Institution)


●   March 1997

Mementos, reality and human displacement

Professor David Parkin (Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Oxford)


●   March 1996

Legal dimensions of forced displacement of population groups

Dr Chaloka Beyani (Crown Prince of Jordan Fellow, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford)