Politics, humanitarianism and migration to Europe

SOAS, University of London
International Institute of Social Studies
Start date

Wednesday, 9 Oct 2019, 16:00

End date

Wednesday, 9 Oct 2019, 17:30

Aula A
International Institute of Social Studies
Spoken Language

In this Migration Series Seminar, Thea Hilhorst and Susanne Jaspars will talk about the humanitarian issues arising from migration to Europe, including the effects and risks created by existing migration and asylum policies, and the humanitarian responses of state and non-state actors.

Migration and displacement are key aspects of famine and humanitarian crises, whether because of direct risks to safety due to violence and attacks, and/or because of loss of livelihoods due to destruction of productive assets and constrained access to land, markets, social services etc.  A number of countries in the Horn and East Africa as well as the Middle East are suffering protracted and ongoing humanitarian crisis, and displacement has reached unprecedented levels in the past decade  Yet western governments frequently view migration to Europe as resulting from economic factors or as a security issue, to be managed through border controls and tackling smuggling and trafficking networks.  

This seminar introduces a special issue on politics, humanitarianism and migration to Europe in the journal International Migration, which explores specifically the humanitarian issues arising from migration to Europe, including the effects and risks created by existing migration and asylum policies, and the humanitarian responses of state and non-state actors. 

In addition to presenting the key themes covered in the special issue, Susanne Jaspars and Thea Hilhorst will present their articles. Susanne’s article is about ‘Darfuri journeys to Europe: causes, risks and humanitarian abandonment’, and Thea’s article is about ‘Traditional humanitarian agencies and refugees in Europe’. 

About the speakers

  • Thea Hilhorst (2020)

    Professor Dorothea Hilhost is professor of Humanitarian Aid and Reconstruction at the International Institute of Social Studies. 

    Her research concerns aid-society relations in humanitarian crises and recovery, with research programmes in a large variety of crisis-affected settings. In 2015 she won a prestigious VICI grant of the Netherlands Research Council for a research project on the co-incidence of disaster and conflict situations in high-conflict, low-conflict and post-conflict scenarios.

    She has published widely on her topics, with 46 journal articles and 34 book chapters. Books include People, Aid and Institutions in Socio-Economic Recovery. Facing Fragilities (2016); and The Real World of NGOs: Discourse, Diversity and Development (2003). The most recent special issue she edited was with Holly Porter and Rachel Gordon on Gender, sexuality and violence in humanitarian crises, Disasters 41(S1).

  • Susanne Jaspers

    Dr Susanne Jaspars is Research Associate at SOAS, University of London.

    She has researched the social and political dynamics of famine, food security, and humanitarian crises for over thirty years. First combining work as an applied researcher (including for ODI’s Humanitarian Policy Group in London) and practitioner, she recently completed a PhD at Bristol University on the history and politics of food aid in Sudan, and published this as a book (Food Aid in Sudan. A History of Power, Politics and Profit. Zed Books). 

    Following her PhD she led a joint SOAS-ODI study on the historical, political and humanitarian dimension of migration from Darfur to Europe.  For the past ten years, she has been on the editoral board of Disasters Journal.  She is also on the board of the International Humanitarian Studies Association (executive committee). Susanne has published a number of books, academic articles and policy reports. 

More information

This event is part of the ISS Migration Seminar Series.

This seminar series is a programme of informal seminar sessions which discuss cutting-edge research on a range of issues within the broad theme of migration.

Please contact Cathy Wilcock or Kasia Grabska for more information.