Refugee Law, Policy, and Experience

History 103U.001

Spring 2018
2303 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
Th 3-5
Class Number: 

Refugees are the frequent subject of news coverage today, where they are often presented in urgent, immediate, and overwhelming terms: “crisis,” “emergency,” “flood.” These are indeed urgent times for what are, in fact, unprecedented numbers of people forcibly displaced due to persecution and violence. But such conditions and responses to them are the product of longer processes; they - and their effects - can be understood only by tracing them through time. This seminar aims to do that by examining the treatment and experiences of refugees in history. Analyzing the actions and perspectives of governmental, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental entities and refugees themselves, the seminar is meant to achieve two objectives. First, in the areas of law and policy, students will learn what existing scholarship can tell us about why and how present-day legal frameworks and forms of assistance were created, by whom, and how they have impacted refugees’ lives. Attention also will be paid to the effects of refugee policy on domestic and international political conditions, especially those conditions that may influence the chances of future forced displacement. Second, students will get a sense of the diversity of refugees’ lives and strategies, including in the areas of law, policy, and politics. The course will center on events in the twentieth century to the present, when modern international and regional refugee regimes were developed, tested, and strained. The geographic scope will be global, with case studies drawn from Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.