ANT431H5F Special Problems in Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology (SSc)

This course is offered in the Fall 2021 "F" term. 

Topic Title: The refugee in a world without refuge

Instructor: Elmirasadat Alihosseini

  • Fall (F) Term
  • TU 13:00-15:00
  • Online Synchronous   
Painting of man in a boat-like structure with an outstretched arm reaching to two men in the water with their arms stretched upwards. Another figure kneels on the structure.
The Arrival III (2017) by Khadim Ali. Reproduced with permission of the artist.

Course Description: In recent years, the “refugee” has resurged as a contentious and politically charged figure: from calls to ban refugees from resettling in the United States, to fears of refugees “flooding” European national borders.  Retreating from these debates, this course approaches the modern figure(s) of the “refugee” through anthropology. We will consider: What is a refugee? Where did the term refugee come from? Who gets to “count” as a refugee, how is this decided, and by whom? And finally what does it take to seek "refuge" in an increasingly refuge-less world? Through an interdisciplinary corpus of works of anthropologists, literary critics, historians and political scientists, we will explore—and unsettle—the modern figure of the refugee and consider how law, asylum, humanitarianism and borders are categorizing and fixing those who come in contact with them. In addition, we will read pieces and watch movies made by refugees and asylum-seekers themselves. The course will tie in current events to grapple with how anthropology can help us question popular discourses and representations of refugees. 

Pre-requisite: ANT204H5 or ANT207H5 or permission of the department.