Foto: Matthias Friel
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This course examines processes of refuge seeking, bringing refugee studies and history into conversation. Drawing on case studies mainly from twentieth century Africa, we ask what a refugee is and whether we can speak of a common refugee experience. We explore whether historians can and should distinguish between refugees, forced migrants and exiles. To do so, we draw on literature from a variety of disciplines, including history, anthropology, political science, and law. The selected case studies cover East, West, South and North African and European contexts.
The course is designed to introduce students to the nascent and vibrant research field of the historical study of refugees and forced migrants on the African continent. By the end of the course students will have gained a grasp of the field and its most important research questions and challenges. The course is organized thematically: it starts by discussing why studying processes of refuge seeking in historical perspective is important. It provides key readings that orient students in the debates about refugee vs. forced migration studies before delving into case studies dedicated to a range of issues concerning the lived experiences of forced migrants in camps, in political exile, their relations with host populations, and with the sending and receiving states.
Some of the questions that motivate this course are: Who is a refugee, forced migrant, exile and how do definitions and perceptions change during the twentieth century? What are refugee experiences like and how do they vary over time and in different geographic areas? What role did colonialism, the decolonization process and the Cold War play with regard to creating, classifying and managing refugee flows in Africa and beyond? How does a discussion about forced migration integrate Africa into global history? And how can we look at the recent refugee crisis historically?
The course is divided in two parts. The first takes place as an online seminar among Potsdam students. The second part brings Potsdam and Cagliari University students and staff together to tackle some challenge questions and case studies in small groups and present the outcome to one another. In this section we will learn about border-crossing across borders. This is course is a part of the EDUC university alliance.
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