ANTH2801 Refugees, Human Rights, Violence and Fear

6 points
Not available in 2020UWA (Perth)Face to face
Not available in 2020AlbanyFace to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 option in the Anthropology and Sociology major sequence
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Society and Culture
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • Level 2 elective
Civil war, political repression, forced migration, illegal border crossings, exile and mass displacement appear to be consistent issues in our contemporary world. Who are these refugees, illegal migrants and asylum seekers? Where do these asylum seekers come from and why? What do states do about them? Which agencies, actors and interest groups engage with refugees? What are the links between refugees and nationalism and racism, borders, immigration policies and attitudes, state sovereignty, diaspora and transnationalism, human rights and cultural identities? Are displacement and emplacement linked? Are they natural conditions? The post-World War II experience with 'displaced peoples' and refugees in Europe not only marked an increasing standardisation of the way governments and non-governmental organisations dealt with refugees but also the way people, governments and groups think and use the social category 'refugee'. What continuities and discontinuities are there between refugee issues today emerging from decolonisation, civil war, poverty and political repression and those of the past? Case studies are predominantly drawn from around the globe.

This unit provides students with the skills to interpret historical and contemporary claims, vested interests and local, regional and global complexities of these issues. It also provides students with some insights into the range of skills and background knowledge necessary for applying their anthropological training to migration and refugee-related research topics. It encourages students to think about career options, professional development and transferable skills while also providing a theoretical grounding in the anthropology of migration.
Students are able to (1) demonstrate an understanding of key concepts in anthropology and sociology including cultural diversity, social inequality, the nature of social relationships and institutions, systems of symbolic meaning, and processes that underpin social and cultural change with a specific focus on refugees and asylum seekers; (2) demonstrate knowledge of the ways refugees are represented in popular and academic literature, how these representations have changed over time and vary across ethnographic situations, how forced migration challenges the nation-state system and notions of human rights; (3) demonstrate an ability to critically review, analyse, summarise and synthesise anthropological and sociological research and theory, in the context of interdisciplinary studies of human rights, humanitarian aid and the international refugee control apparatus; (4) demonstrate an ability to formulate, investigate and discuss anthropologically and sociologically informed research questions and develop arguments based on a critical evaluation of evidence; and (5) demonstrate an ability to communicate anthropological and sociological ideas, principles and knowledge to specialist and non-specialist audiences using a range of formats (written, oral, visual etc.).
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) assignments; (2) an in-class test; and (3) tutorial and workshop participation. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Mitchell Low
Unit rules
any Level 1 ANTH unit
HUMA2236 Refugees and Human Rights
Contact hours
up to 3 hours per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.