Secil Dagtas, Collegium de Lyon/ Anthropology, University of Waterloo,

Hulya Arik, Department of Cultural Sciences,  University of Gothenburg,

Kristen Biehl, Sabanci University,

Johanna Reynolds, Centre for Refugee Studies/Department of Geography, York University



Much of the mainstream (and western oriented) focus on the global ‘refugee crisis’ oscillates between two hegemonic representations: the abstract and individuated ideals of “universal humanity” which informs the political discourse around humanitarianism, and the ethnically and territorially defined categories of national citizenship and belonging against which an objectified figure of “the refugee” comes into question. While humanitarian discourses tend to depoliticise the conditions and consequences of displacement by obscuring the already racialised, sexualised, and religious framings of the refugee as an object of compassion or suspicion, the state-centred approaches often naturalise the political conditions of borders, territorial divisions, and ethnic boundaries of citizenship that have in fact produced multiple forms of displacement to which the nation-state is now posed as the solution.

This research network intends to bring together scholars, regional specialists, activists and experts from civil society to offer alternatives to these perspectives by attending to the historical, socio-spatial and religious underpinnings of displacement that complicate notions of universal humanity and bounded citizenship.

Employing a transnational approach that is attentive to regional and historical particularities, we aim to provide nuanced perspectives on the lives and struggles of displaced populations from below, as these lives are shaped by the contingencies of their dwelling and movement.

  • In what ways has the global ‘refugee crisis’ unsettled and recreated regions, territories and urban spaces across the Middle East, Europe and North America?
  • When and how do refugees mobilize urban citizenship to reconfigure their ethno-religious difference and political struggles at the root of their displacement?
  • How does the encounter between refugees, migrants, and their hosts in multi-religious/multi-ethnic urban settings forge relationships that may be contributing to a world regimented otherwise?

Through a collaborative exploration of these questions, the network aims to highlight the political and cultural stakes of displacement from below within the fragmented and pluralistic city spaces where the majority of refugees reside today.

To this end, the network will organize four events in both Europe and North America and two special sessions at the RSA Annual Meeting in Santiago, Spain, 5-7 June, 2019.


Displacement, Transnational Mobility, and Religious Realities (co-sponsored by the Collegium de Lyon and the UMR 5206 Triangle)

Workshop June 26-27, 2018 Lyon, France

Territorial Politics of Asylum and Claims to the City

Workshop November, 2018 Toronto/Waterloo, Canada

On Hospitality, Solidarity, and Fragmentation: Conversations from the Field

June, 2019 Berlin, Germany

Conceptualizing and Comparing Urban Citizenship in Migratory Contexts

April, 2020 Denver, USA



No events coming up.