The Research School on Peace and Conflict invites applications for the course The Anthropology of Humanitarianism to take place at PRIO in Oslo on 28-30 November 2018. The deadline for applications is 16 September 2018.

This course is intended for an interdisciplinary audience of humanitarian studies and peace and conflict studies. The course will deal with key topics such as the anthropology of forced migration, the thematic and methodological challenges of studying conflict and crisis in anthropology, the disciplines historical engagement with emergencies and human suffering and the contemporary legalization and financialization of the humanitarian field and finally the changing humanitarian-development-security nexus. The course aims to give participants an overview of the field as well as give an introduction to the possibilities and challenges that arise with using ethnographic approaches to the study of humanitarian action and humanitarianism. The course will be a collaboration with PRIO and the Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law, University of Oslo.

In parallel to the expansion of the global humanitarian system, there has been a general rise of humanitarianism as field of study. Anthropology is arguably the most established discipline with a focus on humanitarianism, which can be explained by the discipline's focus on 'the other' beyond the nation state. The literature has predominantly concerned itself with how people - recipients, practitioners, decision makers and donors - interact with the discourses, symbolisms, structures, institutions and rules of humanitarianism. This literature has also focused on testimonies and witnessing; the artefacts of humanitarianism; humanitarianism as an instance of transnational linkages; the camp, biopolitics and medical humanitarianism.

About the lecturers:

Åshild Kolås is a social anthropologist and Research Professor at PRIO. Her work focuses among other on political violence and peacebuilding in India and Myanmar. She has published several books on Tibet, and numerous articles in journals such as Human Organization, Development and Change, The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology , Social Identities and Alternatives.

Cindy Horst is a social anthropologist and a Research Director and Research Professor in Migration and Refugee Studies at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). Her research focuses on the migration-development nexus, including diaspora engagement with regions of origin and the transnational activities of refugees. Horst is the author of Transnational Nomads: How Somalis cope with refugee life in the Dadaab camps of Kenya (Berghahn, 2006). Her work has appeared in Conflict, Security and Development; Development and Change; Ethnicities; Journal of Refugee Studies; Refuge; Refugee Survey Quarterly; and Social Analysis among other.

Kristin Bergtora Sandvik is a legal anthropologist and a professor at the Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law at the university of Oslo and a research professor in humanitarian studies at PRIO. Her research agenda focuses on refugee resettlement and the technologization and legalization of humanitarian space. She has published in Law and Society Review, Feminist Legal Studies, PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, Journal of Human Rights Practice, International Journal of Refugee Law, and Third World Quarterly, among other.


In order to obtain 5 ECTS for the course, participants must get an overview of the readings, participate actively in the lectures and submit a course essay that is marked as "pass".


There is no participation fee, but the cost of transportation and accommodation must be covered by the participants. Applicants will be notified about the outcome of their application within a week after the deadline.

Please visit the course page for further information and to submit your application.