CfP: Historicizing the Refugee Experience, 17th-21st centuries: First Annual International Seminar in Historical Refugee Studies

Call for papers, deadline 15 February 2021

The University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE), the German Historical Institute in Washington (GHI) and the National History Center of the American Historical Association (NHC), in cooperation with the Interdisciplinary Center for Integration and Migration Research (InZentIM), the Institute for the Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI) and the Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research (KHK/GCR21), are pleased to announce the first International Seminar in Historical Refugee Studies, which will be held at the KWI in Essen, October 12–15, 2021.

The purpose of this seminar is to promote the historical study of refugees, who are too often regarded as a phenomenon of recent times. By viewing the problem of refugees from a historical perspective, the seminar seeks to complicate and contextualize our understanding of peoples who have fled political or religious conflicts, persecution, and violence. By bringing together 14 advanced PhD students and early postdocs from different parts of the world whose individual research projects examine refugees in different times and places, we intend to give a sense of purpose to this emerging field of study and demonstrate the value of viewing the plight of refugees from a historical perspective.

We invite contributionsfrom recent PhDs, as well as young scholars in the final stages of their dissertations. In addition to historians, we also encourage applications from researchers working in the fields of sociology, political science, anthropology, ethnic and area studies.

Possible contributions include:
-Studies of refugee movements and exile diasporas in various periods and places;
-Studies of the ethnic, gendered, racial, religious, and other characteristics of refugee groups and how they impact on reception policies and processes;
-Studies of reception and aid policies, and on the repercussions of refugees on host states and societies;
-Studies of the changing inter-state framework of refugee movements, such as international or inter-imperial cooperation, the role of international governmental or non-governmental actors, humanitarian organizations, etc.;
-Studies of the infrastructures of exile (camps, networks, economies, regulations)
-Studies of the conceptual history of refugees and exile (legal history, administrative practice, cultural history, etc.)

Papers will be pre-circulated five weeks before the seminar to allow maximum time forpeers andinvited senior scholars to engage in discussions on the state of the field. The workshop language will be English. The organizers will cover basic expenses for travel and accommodation. The forum is hosted by Jan C. Jansen (UDE), Dane Kennedy (George Washington University) and Simone Lässig (GHI). The participants will be joined by a group of leading senior scholars in the field of refugee history, including Jordanna Bailkin (University of Washington), Delphine Diaz (University of Reims-Institut universitaire de France), Peter Gatrell (University of Manchester) and Susanne Lachenicht (University of Bayreuth).

The seminar is supported by the Fritz-Thyssen-Foundation, the University of Duisburg-Essen, the ERC project “Atlantic Exiles”, the German Historical Institute, InZentIM and the KWI.

Please upload a brief CV (max. 2 pages) and a proposal of no more than 750 words by February 15, 2021, via the seminar’s submission page:
Please contact us at if you encounter any problems with submitting your information online. Successful applicants will be notified in March 2021.