The Ideal Refugees: Gender, Islam, and the Sahrawi Politics of Survival | University of Oxford

The Ideal Refugees: Gender, Islam, and the Sahrawi Politics of Survival

Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (University College London)
5:00 - 6:30
Oxford Department of International Development
3 Mansfield Road
Oxford
OX1 3TB

Seminar Room 1

Lectures and seminars
Free
Yes
Not required

Refugee camps are typically perceived as militarised and patriarchal spaces, and yet the Sahrawi refugee camps and their inhabitants have consistently been represented as ideal in nature: uniquely secular and democratic spaces, and characterised by gender equality. Drawing on extensive research with and about Sahrawi refugees in Algeria, Cuba, Spain, South Africa and Syria, Dr Fiddian-Qasmiyeh explores how, why and to what effect such idealised depictions have been projected onto the international arena. In this talk, she will argue that secularism and the empowerment of Sahrawi refugee women have been strategically invoked to secure the humanitarian and political support of Western state and non-state actors who ensure the continued survival of the camps and their inhabitants. She will challenge listeners to reflect critically on who benefits from assertions of good, bad and ideal refugees, and whose interests are advanced by interwoven discourses about the empowerment of women and secularism in contexts of war and peace. Light refreshments will be provided after the event.