“To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing.” —Raymond Williams
In this course, we will begin by discussing the causes of the numerous wars in the Middle East over the past several decades (the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, recent wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, etc.), addressing their causes as well as their consequences. Then, we will discuss domestic responses to forced displacements by critically investigating the performance of those domestic institutions that might have helped mitigate the disastrous outcomes. Along the way, we’ll discuss topics like nationalism, sectarianism, legacies of colonialism, nation state building, globalization, and the resulting contributions to and impacts upon forced displacements. Once we have established a thorough historical understanding of the preconditions of the global refugee crisis, we will then begin to shift our focus to a discussion of the role played by international organizations such as the UN and the European Union alongside a critical analysis of the responses of foreign national governments.
In order to gain a more objective, quantitatively based understanding of the dimensions of the crisis, students will be asked to research and collect data on aspects of the global situation. Students will be encouraged to write narratives about life as a refugee in an attempt to more wholly illustrate and comprehend the dramatic binary realities of their everyday lives – of trauma and despair, of recovery and hope, of total loss and the creation of new communities. We will return to Political Economy by discussing the various economic impacts of the migrant labor force on the host countries, followed, near the end of the semester, by an exploration of the progressive and left response to the crisis.