ENIUGH 2020 - International Organizations and Refugees. Mechanisms of In- and Exclusion

Sara Cosemans, KU Leuven; European Network in Universal and Global History, ENIUGH
11.06.2019 - 10.07.2019
Sara Cosemans (KU Leuven)

International Organizations and Refugees: Mechanisms of in- and exclusion

Panel Proposed by: Sara Cosemans, KU Leuven, Belgium
Event: 6th European Congress on World and Global History (ENIUGH)
Theme: “Minorities, Cultures of Integration and Patterns of Exclusion”
Date and Venue: June 25-28, 2020, Turku, Finland

The emergence of the refugee as a legal category is intrinsically linked with the history of international organizations of the twentieth century. Dividing mobile populations in groups deserving of protection and other ‘migrants’ inevitably drew borders between them, however blurry and debated. Legal innovations did not prevent that the control of these boundaries often escaped the international organizations responsible for refugees. This panel raises the following questions:

What is the role of international organizations in defining ‘refugeehood’? Which mechanisms on the international level contribute to in-/exclusion of people in the refugee category? What does it mean to be a refugee, or to be denied that status, based on international legal instruments?

This panel, proposed to the 6th European Congress on World and Global History (ENIUGH) in Turku, Finland, invites (inter- or transnational, legal, institutional) historians to consider these questions throughout the ‘long 20th century’ until the present.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:
- a critical evaluation of the emergence of a ‘refugee regime’, based on legal interpretations of rights (of protection, of mobility, …);
- the interplay between the inclusion of certain groups and the exclusion of other mobile people;
- the centrality of international mobility as an excluding factor in determining the ‘right to protection’;
- mechanisms of and reasons behind in- and exclusion as related to particular (refugee) groups throughout the 20th century;
- dynamics between international organizations on the one hand, and national refugee policy on the other in determining refugee status, granting of asylum, and permanent resettlement of refugees;
- effects of the legal framework concerning refugees on mobile populations, and the uneven distribution of rights inherent to that framework;
- a widening of the scope of ‘international organizations’ beyond the western, Eurocentric conception and varying perceptions of integration and exclusion of refugees worldwide;
- refugees’ and other mobile populations’ perceptions of in- and exclusion in and by international organizations;
- interaction between different actors (state, civil society, international organizations) with regard to the refugee question;
- the role of power imbalances on different levels: internationally, within countries, between groups and individuals, …;
- spacialized approaches towards the in/exclusion of refugees;
- and more.

As historians’ interest in refugee history increases, the panel “International Organizations and Refugees: Mechanisms of in- and exclusion” intends to bring together researchers interested in the history of in- and exclusion that accompanies the emergence and growth of the refugee regime. Papers preferably draw from primary source material that sheds new light on the architecture of the international refugee regime and the connections between various actors involved in it – both actors acting from a ‘majority’ or powerful position, as those excluded from power and rights.

If you are interested in partaking in this panel, please send an abstract (100-300 words, in English) and a short academic bio (including name, degree, and current affiliation) by July 10, 2019 to sara.cosemans@kuleuven.be. Acceptance to the panel will be announced before the end of the call for panels on July 15, 2019. Final acceptance depends on the deliberations of the ENIUGH steering committee.


Further information on the ENIUGH Congress 2020 and the general call for papers can be found at: https://research.uni-leipzig.de/eniugh/congress/


Sara Cosemans

Blijde Inkomststraat 21, bus 3307, 3000 Leuven


ENIUGH 2020 - International Organizations and Refugees. Mechanisms of In- and Exclusion, 11.06.2019 – 10.07.2019 Turku, in: H-Soz-Kult, 14.06.2019, <www.hsozkult.de/event/id/termine-40546>.
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