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Author Dina Nayeri in conversation with Tom Scott-Smith at St. Anne's College, November 2023

Barbara Harrell-Bond, 2015

Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond, OBE, Emerita Professor, was a legal anthropologist who founded the Refugee Studies Centre in 1982 and directed it until 1996. Prior to this she conducted research in West Africa from 1967-1982, while employed by the Departments of Anthropology, University of Edinburgh & University of Illinois-Urbana, the Afrika Studiecentrum in Leiden, and the Faculty of Law, University of Warwick. On her retirement from the RSC, she conducted research in Kenya and Uganda (1997-2000), and was Honorary Adjunct Professor at the American University in Cairo (2000-2008). She wrote the seminal text Imposing Aid: Emergency Assistance to Refugees in 1982.

An unflinching advocate of legal aid programmes for refugees and research and teaching in refugee studies in the Global South, Barbara was a driving force behind the establishment of a number of programmes in countries that included Uganda, Egypt, South Africa, and the UK. She was responsible for the information portal (Rights in Exile) that promotes legal assistance for refugees around the world. In 2013, Rights in Exile became the refugee rights component of the International Refugee Rights Initiative, which issues the monthly refugee legal aid newsletter, Rights in Exile.

Barbara was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2005 for services to refugee and forced migration studies. Barbara was also a recipient of the Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology awarded by the American Anthropological Association, and received the Lucy Mair Medal for Applied Anthropology in 2014. In July 2016, she was awarded an honorary doctorate at the School of African and Asian Studies (SOAS), University of London.

Far from being only an academic, the focus of Barbara’s life-long work was on refugee rights, and on keeping refugees at the centre of humanitarianism, issues which resonate even more deeply now, in an age when asylum and protections for refugees appear daily more endangered.

She died in July 2018 at her home in Oxford.

The Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture is held each year in Michaelmas term.

 Lectures include:

●   2023

Who Gets Believed? A conversation with Dina Nayeri | Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture 2023

Dina Nayeri


●   2022

What Justice for Famine Crimes? | Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture 2022

Professor Alex de Waal (World Peace Foundation, Tufts University)


●   2021

Empire, Asylum, and Refugee Responsibility Sharing

Professor E. Tendayi Achiume (UCLA Law)


●   2020

Democracy after Right-Wing Populism

Professor Jan-Werner Müller (Princeton University)


●   2019

The Map is Not the Territory: Story-making, Place and Performance 

Dame Marina Warner


●   2018

In a troubled and polarized Middle-East: challenges for Palestine refugees and UNRWA

Pierre Krähenbühl (UNRWA Commissioner-General)


●   2017

The displacement paradox: good refugees, bad migrants. Where can the unwanted go?

Dr Jemilah Mahmood (Under-Secretary General for Partnerships, IFRC)


●   2016

Reporting refugees: what a journalist learnt on the migration trails to Europe

Patrick Kingsley (Migration correspondent, the Guardian)


●   2015

‘We do not want to become refugees’: human mobility in the age of climate change

Professor Walter Kälin (Envoy of the Chairmanship of the Nansen Initiative, and Professor of Constitutional and International Law, University of Bern)


●   2014

Forced migration to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan: burden or boon

Her Royal Highness Princess Basma bint Talal


●   2013

Refugee rights: beyond the 1951 Convention

Professor Yakin Ertürk (Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture)


●   2012

The architecture of refugee protection

Professor Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar (Stanford Law School)


●   2011

Waiting for solutions in uncertain times: Palestine refugees in the Middle East context

Filippo Grandi (Commissioner-General, UNRWA)


●   2010

Restoring rights: forced displacement, protection and humanitarian action

António Guterres (UN High Commissioner for Refugees)


●   2009

Beyond blankets: in search of political deals and durable solutions for the displaced

Professor Jan Egeland (Former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Coordinator, Director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs)


●   2008

Asylum: a new perspective

The Rt Hon Sir John Waite (Co-chair of the Independent Asylum Commission)


●   2007

Global poverty, humanitarian need in the Middle East and prospects for peace in the region

HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan


●   2006

Asylum: the new dirty word

Shami Chakrabati (Director, Liberty)


●   2005

Refugee law, rights and reality in Africa into the 21st Century

Professor Bonaventure Rutinwa (University of Dar es Salaam)


●   2004

National citizenship, private property, and domestic migration: a witches’ brew?

Benedict Anderson (Aaron L Binenkorb Professor Emeritus of International Studies, Cornell University)


●   2003

Refugees and their human rights

Professor Guy S Goodwin-Gill (All Souls College, University of Oxford)


●   2002

Human trafficking and smuggling: implications for the refugee protection system

Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn (The Law School, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand)


●   2001

September 11th: its implications for law, human rights and democracy

Harold Hongju Koh (Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law, Yale Law School, former US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor)


●   1999

Globalization, humanitarianism and the erosion of refugee protection

Professor B S Chimni (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India)