Past events

Global Histories of Refugees in the 20th and 21st Centuries Conference

The University of Melbourne
Thursday 6 October - Saturday 8 October 2016

The plight of refugees has become the global issue of our times. The United Nations has estimated that over 59 million people worldwide are displaced as a result of conflict and persecution, the highest number since the 1990s. In most recent events, an estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of civil war in 2011. Throughout the twentieth century and now into the early decades of the twenty-first century, involuntary displacement of peoples has become a defining feature of the modern era.

This international conference seeks to explore all aspects of the history of the past and present plight of refugees. It aims to address a broad range of questions relating to this history such as: What has defined different refugee crises at different times in history? What has been the magnitude of the refugee crisis and how can we explain its scale? How have governments, humanitarian aid agencies, philanthropic and other organizations responded to refugee crises in modern times? What have they learnt from past campaigns? How have refugees experienced displacement? How has the refugee experience changed over time?

The conference will focus on the following topics, among others:

  • History of particular refugee groups over time
  • Child refugees and their experiences
  • Gender issues relating to refugees
  • Violence and refugees
  • Public policy relating to refugees
  • Photographic and visual material of refugees
  • Memory, trauma and the refugee experience
  • Humanitarianism and refugees
  • Digital media and refugee histories
  • Government responses to refugee crises
  • Economic histories of refugees
  • Refugees and their narratives

Public lectures (audio files)

8 October 2016

Professor Peter Gatrell from the University of Manchester (UK) presents a one hour lecture on the making of the modern refugee. Listen on Echo360.

24 March 2015

Professor Joy Damousi presents, 'Child Refugees and Australian Internationalism: Past, Present, Future' as part of the Australia in the World Lecture & Seminar Series. Listen on SoundCloud.