Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of Colorado / Boulder

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2011
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Colorado / Boulder
Humanitarian Governance, Congolese Refugees and Memories of a Neglected War

How do refugees fare when the conflict they fled is declared beyond the scope of humanitarian intervention? The UN recently claimed its resources are too limited to respond to the conflict in the DRC. Refugees from eastern Congo are still crossing Lake Tanganyika to seek refuge in Tanzania, the country that has hosted the greatest number of refugees in all of Africa for almost five decades. Despite the ongoing flow of new arrivals since the mid-90s, Tanzania and the UN are closing rather than opening refugee camps. As refugees face the reality of repatriating to the DRC, many seek official resettlement in a new country. To qualify for resettlement, refugees must prove to humanitarian representatives that they escaped the DRC not because it was a dangerous war zone for everyone but because they were individually persecuted. Institutional demands for narratives of personal and national histories thus shape refugee lives and impact their futures. How do assumptions about intractable violence and refugee motivations get expressed in bureaucratic demands for clear personal narratives that frame violence as personal? What do refugee experiences of dislocation and memories of the violence reveal about the politics of humanitarian intervention in both Tanzania and the DRC?