Knowledge Production in Displacement and Forced Migration
Workshop at the University of California, Santa Barbara | Conveners: Joshua Donovan (GHI Washington | Pacific Office), Vitalij Fastovskij (GHI Washington | Pacific Office), and Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Due, in part, to humanitarian crises in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, scholarship on refugees has proliferated in recent years. A significant number of studies were devoted to understanding the root causes of political, religious, ethnic, gendered, and/or state violence, which often drives displacement and forced migration. Others have focused on how refugees have navigated humanitarian networks and often racialized immigration systems in order to find safe havens. Still others have considered how intersectional identities shape refugee experiences.
Although scholars, states, and non-state actors alike have compiled and produced a substantial amount of knowledge about refugees and displaced peoples, less work has been done to recover the intellectual and cultural currents these populations carry with them and the knowledge that they produce during the processes of transit and resettlement. Owing to the inherently precarious circumstances faced by people who have experienced forced migration, refugees are often seen as actors who have limited agency – as people who were forced from their homes and left to the mercies of humanitarian organizations and host states. However, displaced people preserve, produce, and transmit knowledge in many forms about the places they were forced to leave behind, about their experiences of relocation, and about how to grapple with the legacies of their displacement. We contend that this knowledge production shapes the places left behind, places in which refugees have settled temporarily or permanently, and the broader international community.
This workshop builds on one of the German Historical Institute’s core research foci, migration and knowledge production, along with its recent efforts to historicize the refugee experience in order to better understand the forms of knowledge transmitted and produced by displaced people both past and present. It is intended to be an interdisciplinary workshop open to faculty, recent PhDs, and advanced graduate students in the humanities and social sciences, including but not limited to the fields of history, ethnic and area studies, gender and sexuality studies, political science, anthropology, sociology, and literature studies. The geographic focus of the workshop is open, but we are particularly interested in studies focused on the first half of the twentieth century.
Possible questions to consider include (but are not limited to):