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SOC2085 : Refugees and Displacement: Borders, Camps, and Asylum

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Silvia Pasquetti
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Population displacement is an increasingly salient feature of contemporary societies. This module is a social science exploration of how forced displacement is produced, regulated, and experienced. It focuses on displacement to interrogate issues of citizenship, belonging, and exclusion. It deals with the interaction between the policing of physical borders and the production of societal boundaries and inequalities. The first half of the lecture series focuses on refugee camps and international humanitarianism in the Global South, especially in Africa and the Middle East. The second half of the lecture series focuses on transit migration and asylum seekers in Europe with particular attention to public and policy debates about asylum, security, welfare, and belonging.

The key aims of this module are:

To provide a conceptual and theoretical overview of sociological and anthropological debates about refugees and displacement.

To identify key connections between the formation and management of refugee camps in Africa and the Middle East and European public and policy debates about asylum seekers and refugees.

To explore how forced displacement affects human beings, social relationships, nation-states, and international relations.

Outline Of Syllabus

Refugees, asylum seekers, undocumented migrants, and aliens—these are all categories that are excluded from “the national order of things,” which is defined by citizenship, borders, and state sovereignty. In this module, we study sociological and anthropological approaches to international population movement, especially forced displacement. We focus on how displacement interacts with issues of citizenship, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. We develop a transnational perspective on immobile refugees living in camps in Africa and the Middle East and mobile asylum seekers in Europe. We begin by discussing population displacement in historical and contemporary perspectives and by studying the salience of displacement for key societal issues such as belonging, access to resources, democracy, and human rights. Then, we focus on refugee camps and international humanitarianism in Africa and the Middle East, discussing works by social scientists such as Ilana Feldman, Lisa Malkki, Jennifer Hyndman, and Michel Agier. We then address the question of the policing of borders and the arrival of asylum seekers in Europe, paying attention to both the experiences of the asylum seekers and the public and policy debates within the receiving societies. We draw on Didier Fassin, Sandro Mezzadra, Nicholas De Genova and other social scientists to study the government of displaced people in Europe in all its tensions and contradictions.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion152:0052:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00in person (live teaching, PiP)
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1115:00115:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:008:00PiP (live teaching, in person)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops21:303:00live teaching in person
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The live PiP lectures will introduce students to key theoretical approaches, policy concerns, public debates, and empirical studies about refugee issues. These will be explored and discussed in more detail in interactive (live PiP) seminars (small group activities). The live PiP workshops will be dedicated to i) additional materials e.g. short documentaries and ii) assessment preparation and feedback.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M502,000 words
Essay1M502000 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay1MEssay Plan; optional
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The two essays will enable students to explore in detail a topic of their choice, assembling and analysing information, organising material and putting forward a coherent and reasoned argument. The second essay will give students the opportunity to further improve their critical thinking and writing skills as they develop a more nuanced and detailed knowledge about refugee issues.

The first assignment (essay 1) is preceded by a formative assessment (an essay plan), which is optional for students.

Reading Lists