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Refugees as grassroots activists: MEMO in conversation with Dr Anne Irfan

Irfan discusses her latest book 'Refuge and Resistance: Palestinians and the international refugee system' in which she looks at how refugee groups are important actors in global politics and not just aid recipients

August 2, 2023 at 4:00 pm

The international humanitarian body UNRWA was created to support Palestine refugees functioned as a surrogate state, however Palestinian refugees have continued to demand their political rights while resisting the UN’s categorisation of their plight as an apolitical humanitarian issue. Join us as we speak to Dr Anne Irfan about her book ‘Refuge and Resistance: Palestinians and the international refugee system‘ to discover how engagement with world politics was driven as much by the refugee grassroots as by the upper echelons of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), making refugee groups important actors in global politics, not simply aid recipients.

Dr Anne Irfan is Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Race, Gender and Postcolonial Studies at UCL. Her work examines colonial legacies in displacement and bordering practices, focusing on Palestinian refugee history and the modern Middle East. A trained historian, she is also interested in questions around post-war internationalism and the UN, archival suppression, and the global refugee regime. Before joining UCL, Anne was Lecturer in Forced Migration at the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre. She is Principal Investigator (PI) on the British Academy-funded project ‘Borders, global governance and the refugee, 1947-51’.

Anne is the author of Refuge and Resistance: Palestinians and the international refugee systemavailable with Columbia University Press. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Refugee Studies, Journal of Palestine Studies, Contemporary Levant, Forced Migration Review and Jerusalem Quarterly. She won the 2020 Alixa Naff Prize in Migration Studies for her article ‘Educating Palestinian refugees: The origins of UNRWA’s unique schooling system’; the 2020 Contemporary Levant Best Paper Award for ‘Petitioning for Palestine: refugee appeals to international authorities’; and the 2017 Ibrahim Dakkak Award for Outstanding Essay on Jerusalem for ‘Is Jerusalem international or Palestinian? Rethinking UNGA Resolution 181.’

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