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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: Place and Displacement: Histories of Refugees and Humanitarianism in 20th Century Africa (HIST10449)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryTaking the refugee camp as perhaps the most iconic symbol of the 21st century African refugee, this course seeks to contextualize the camp within a deeper history of displacement, migration, and humanitarian interventions in the last century. While our focus will be on placing these stories into themes of African history, this course will also engage in global histories as we consider the role of transnational aid organizations, aid workers, and trace the lives of refugees beyond the continent. We will be engaging in these histories through primary and secondary sources to consider the memory, politics, environments, and cultures of migration and displacement.
Course description African lives have long been shaped by both forced and voluntary migration due to climate, conflict, labour, colonialism, and the transatlantic slave trade. We will consider the experience and memory of being uprooted as sometimes the norm rather than the exception and one that has been increasingly determined not just by the causes of conflict but increasingly by the institutions and methods of intervention in their aftermath. Starting in the colonial period, we will look at how migration for a variety of reasons shaped the continent while the term refugee was not applied. After independence, African countries have housed millions of refugees since the 1960s while also struggling to provide "development" for their own citizens. In this way, refugee histories are also histories of nationalism and state formation, community making, and PanAfrican cooperation as well as exile. We will also consider the ways in which foreign intervention and expertise by the 1980s became the new standard procedure for caring for refugees, leading to refugee camps and the profusion of "humanitarian devices" - technologies to alleviate suffering as well as foster social improvement. Lastly, we will follow refugees across oceans and into the diaspora while also sustaining ties back home.

This course will be organized each week around a historical question with the goal of attempting to answer it through lecture, course readings, and tutorial. Some of these questions include: How have refugees and refugee organizations co-constructed one another? How has the relationship between memory and exile been shaped at different moments? When did refugee camps become the most common way of housing and caring for refugees? What is the difference between a refugee and an "economic migrant"? What is the role of climate in migration and what is the new category of a "climate refugee"? Lastly, the final five weeks of the course will also focus on the challenges of conducting historical research generally as well as specifically regarding our seminar's topic. This will include class discussions of oral history, bureaucratic and institutional archives and writing histories of the recent past.

Content note: The study of History inevitably involves the study of difficult topics that we encourage students to approach in a respectful, scholarly, and sensitive manner. Nevertheless, we remain conscious that some students may wish to prepare themselves for the discussion of difficult topics. In particular, the course organiser has outlined that the following topics may be discussed in this course, whether in class or through required or recommended primary and secondary sources: Slavery, Emancipation, and Migration; Colonialism, Migration and Labor; The World Wars: Migrants, DPs, Refugees; Biafra and Humanitarian Aid in Africa; The Bush Camp: White Minority Rule and Exile in Southern Africa; The Refugee Camp; The Great Lakes Region and Rwandan refugees; Ugandan Refugees in Britain; Somalis in Kenya. While this list indicates sensitive topics students are likely to encounter, it is not exhaustive because course organisers cannot entirely predict the directions discussions may take in tutorials or seminars, or through the wider reading that students may conduct for the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass in 40 credits of third level historical courses or equivalent.

Students should only be enrolled on this course with approval from the History Honours Programme Administrator.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 400 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 44, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 8, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 348 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 80 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
3,000 word paper at the end of Semester 1 (25%)
2,000 word Research Proposal (15%)
5,000 word Final Paper (40%)

Non-Written Skills:
Student Presentations (20%)
Feedback Students are expected to discuss their coursework with the Course Organiser at least once prior to submission, and are encouraged to do so more often. Meetings can take place with the Course Organiser during their published office hours or by appointment. Students will also receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate a critical command of the themes and methodology in histories of humanitarianism and refugees;
  2. analyse and reflect critically on the work of scholars in the field;
  3. demonstrate an ability to locate, analyse and interrogate primary source materials on refugees and humanitarianism in Africa;
  4. develop and sustain original scholarly arguments in written form;
  5. demonstrate originality, academic integrity, and ability to evaluate the work of their peers.
Reading List
Barnett, M. Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism.Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013.

Chambers, R. "Rural Refugees in Africa: What the Eye Does Not See." Disasters 3, no. 4 (n.d.): 381-92.

Eggers, D. What Is the What. New York: Vintage, 2007.

Stephen J.C, J. Cross, P. Redfield, and A. Street, ed. Limn Number 9: Little Development Devices/Humanitarian Goods. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018.

Ferguson, J. Anti-Politics Machine: Development, Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho. First edition edition. Minneapolis: Univ Of Minnesota Press, 1994.

Gatrell, P. The Making of the Modern Refugee. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Malkki, L.H. Purity and Exile: Violence, Memory, and National Cosmology among Hutu Refugees in Tanzania. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, 1995.

Mosse, D., ed. Adventures in Aidland: The Anthropology of Professionals in International Development. New York, NY: Berghahn Books, 2013.

Moyn, S. Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press, 2018.

Prunier, G. Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe. Reprint edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Rosenthal, J. "From 'Migrants' to 'Refugees': Identity, Aid, and Decolonization in Ngara District, Tanzania." The Journal of African History 56, no. 2 (July 2015): 261-79.

Siddiqi, A.I. "Architecture Culture, Humanitarian Expertise: From the Tropics to Shelter, 1953-93." Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 76, no. 3 (September 1, 2017): 367-84.

"Abdi and the Golden Ticket." This American Life, July 3, 2015.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Tinashe Takuva
Tel: (01316) 502368
Course secretaryMiss Annabel Samson
Tel: (0131 6)50 3783
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