Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture 2012. Lecture by Professor Alessandro Monsutti (Graduate Institute, Geneva) recorded on 6 June 2012 at the University Museum of Natural History, Oxford.
This lecture explored how refugees are defined as people who have lost the protection of their state origin and therefore fall under the responsibility of the international community, represented by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. They are situated at the interstice of national and international sovereignty. Building on the Afghan case, one of the most massive forced displacements of population since World War II, the lecture will examine the growth of a global bureaucracy linked to the action of international and non-governmental organizations, philanthropic foundations, think tanks, and even private security contractors. They promote new forms of transnational governmentality that involve benevolence and welfare programmes but also coercion and repression; they may by turns support or challenge the more familiar territorialised expressions of state authority.