The Moodle site for BIOL 490 Biology Senior Seminar has been moved to the Winter 2017 section.

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This seminar provides an anthropological and historical introduction to the study of gender, gender-based violence, and women's activism in Latin America. The readings, discussions and visual materials focus on the realities and lived experiences of women in Latin America not only as victims of violence and oppression, but also as survivors and agents of their own herstories. Emphasis is placed on the phenomenon of gender violence, gender inequality, state terror, racism and socio-economic marginalization of women, children and LGBTIQ individuals. A wide range of materials and resources will be employed throughout the term ranging from secondary literature, memoirs, life narratives and testimonies, films and documentaries, and art projects in order for the students to be able to critically engage with the gendered lives of women in Latin America, but also interpret Latin American cases within a wider, comparative and international framework.

Course description and purpose

Millions of people around the world have been forced from their homes by interlinked factors including persecution, armed conflict and war, natural disasters, structural violence, and development projects. The seminar explores the “refugee” and “migrant” status and examines the refugee crisis and forced migration in a global perspective and through an interdisciplinary lens. It provides a historical background of the formation of the “refugee” concept going back to inter-war Europe and placing emphasis both on its construction in international law and on the precarious state that refugees and migrants face today globally through various case studies. The seminar also addresses the politics of humanitarianism, the role of international organizations, especially UNHCR, and the securitization of human rights as well as the ethnic, gendered, and religious identities being reshaped by forced displacement.

The course is organized both chronologically and thematically, helping students understand the ways in which global migration and contemporary refugee crises and associated phenomena have changed over time, highlighting continuities and ruptures especially in the construction of the refugee and the migrant as the “other.” Lectures and readings provide a global perspective but focus on regional case studies, often using a comparative analysis. Students will examine and are expected to think critically about various historical and contemporary cases of refugee flows, forced displacement, and migration, integrating diverse disciplinary approaches, drawing on international relations, anthropology, gender studies, sociology, and history. Similarly, reading assignments, mini-lectures, and in-class activities span across disciplines and examine different types of sources, including academic books and articles in history and the social sciences, first-person migration narratives, and art projects.