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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Sociology

Undergraduate Course: Refugees and Humanitarianism (SCIL10090)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryRecent conflicts in Syria, Central America and Myanmar have caused more and more people to flee as refugees, with worldwide numbers growing each year. In light of its global significance, this course offers a critical sociology of refugee humanitarianism.
We explore the ways in which refugees are multiply and intersectionally situated within humanitarian and human rights spaces and in the everyday spaces that characterize ¿refugeedom¿.
Course description This course on refugees and humanitarianism frames the complexities and scaling of 'lived refugeedom' as a tension: forcibly displaced persons experience the political realities of daily lives in culturally diverse and challenging displacement spaces, but at the same time their lives are also defined by the protections and rights-based practices of the humanitarian organizations that serve and care for them and that are often challenged to 'see' them as cultural, political and historical subjects. Positioning refugees as political and moral agents in and of their own forced displacement, the course material then anchors its critical study of refugee humanitarianism within an expansive understanding of the wider subjectivations inherent in the assignation 'refugee' and in refugeedom's humanitarian interventions. We explore topics such as detention and registration practices, therapeutic paradigms of aid, neutrality mandates, the visualities of refugee humanitarianism, the 'figuration of the refugee child', and the refugee as humanitarian cipher.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. critically interrogate humanitarian aid¿s practices and working assumptions
  2. explore the ways in which policy and intellectual frameworks grasp lived experiences
  3. illuminate the ways substantive case material informs theory-making
  4. evaluate policies around refugeedom in light of key critical social theories
  5. develop skills in working with colleagues in small groups and presenting material
Reading List
Fassin and Rechtman. 2009. The Empire of Trauma. An Inquiry into the Condition of Victimhood. Princeton. (Chapter 8)
Thomaz. 2018. "What's in a category? The politics of not being a refugee" Social and Legal Studies 27(2): 200-18.

Marshall. 2014. "Save (us from) the children: trauma, Palestinian childhood, and the production of governable subjects" Children's Geographies 12(3): 281-296.

Napier-Moore. 2011. ""Humanicrats": the social production of compassion, indifference, and hostility in long-term camps" Development in Practice 21 (1): 73-84.

Agier. 2011. Managing the Undesirables: Refugee Camps and Humanitarian Government. Polity.
Holzer. 2015. The Concerned Women of Buduburam: Refugee Activists and Humanitarian Dilemmas. Cornell.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course students should have strengthened their skills in:
Critically analysing policy and research intersectionally
Group project preparation and presentation
Contributing to and engaging in class discussion/seminar
Course organiserDr Liliana Riga
Tel: (0131 6)51 1853
Course secretaryMr Ewen Miller
Tel: (0131 6)50 3925
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