SOAS University of London

Centre for Gender Studies

Gendering Refugee Crises and Humanitarian Practice 1

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/2021
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Term 1

This module aims to examine refugee crises and the humanitarian interventions put forward to address them - as gendered processes. It aims to analyse how refugees and displaced populations, particularly in the Global South, are constructed and managed within political orders and humanitarian regimes. Drawing on literatures from different disciplines such as political theory, anthropology, sociology , political economy and cultural studies, the module will analyse what it means for women and men to be displaced as a result of conflicts, environmental disasters, political repression or economic dispossession during neo-liberal times.

In addition, it analyses the relationship between gender regimes and humanitarian regimes. A central part of the module focuses on the various zones of encampment of refugees and displaced populations: refugee camps, internment and detention centres, urban and rural informal gatherings, border zones, and spontaneous informal gatherings will be analysed both as contemporary bio-political spaces of control and containment but also as spaces productive of new political cultures, identities, political subjectivities.

Rather than studying refugees through the sole prism of vicitimhood or exclusion from nation-states, the module will analyse refugeehood, displacement and exile as lens for understanding border making and meanings, operations of sovereignty and power, home and belonging, masculinities and femininites, in their intersection with race, sexuality and cultural and political economies.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the gender dimension of displacement, exile and forced migration
  • Analyse the gendered implications of political representations and constructions of refugees
  • Critically assess humanitarian interventions from a gendered perspective
  • Discern the ways in which refugees and displaced constitute a crucial angle for understanding how sovereign and non-sovereign powers operate in the Global South today
  • Analyse the relevance of refugeehood and displacement for an understanding of the ways in which border regimes produce and reproduce gender, sexual, and racial identities


2 hour lectures per week.

Scope and syllabus

Term 1

  • The construction of the refugee
  • Gendering Refugees and Forced Migration
  • Boundaries and Border Crossing in the Global South
  • Narratives and ethnographies of forced migration
  • Neoliberal Economies and Displacement
  • Gendering Humanitarian Interventions
  • Gendered Violence, Sovereignty and bio-politics
  • Gendering Camps and Zones of Detention
  • Body, Trauma and the Politics of Witness in Asylum Procedures
  • Political and Moral Economies of life in Border Zones

Method of assessment

Assessment is 50% Essay (3000 words) and 50% Report (1500 words).

Suggested reading

  • Fiddian Qasmiyyeh, Elena (2014) The Ideal Refugees: Gender, Islam and the Sahrawi Politics of Survival, Syracuse University Press, 2014.

  • Abu Mustafa, Rogaia, (2009) Transforming Displaced Women in Sudan: Politics and the Body in a Squatter Settlement Chicago: University of Chicago

  • Bhabha, Jaqueline (2004) Demography and Rights: Women, Children and Access to Asylum, Int J Refugee Law 16 (2): 227-243.

  • Lacey Andrew Gale: (2007) Bulgur Marriages and "Big" Women: Navigating Relatedness in Guinean Refugee Camps: Lacey Andrews Gale : Anthropological Quarterly, Vol. 80, No. 2, Kinship and Globalization, pp. 355-378

  • Helle Rydstrøm (2012) Gendered Corporeality and Bare Lives: Local Sacrifices and Sufferings during the Vietnam War: Signs, Vol. 37, No. 2, pp. 275-299

  • Allan, D. (2009) From Nationalist to Economic Subject: Emergent Economic Networks among Shatila Women, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 38, No. 4, pp. 75-90


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules