Janet Reilly

Undergraduate Discipline

Politics

AB, Duke University. MSt, Oxford University. MPhil and PhD, City University of New York Graduate Center. Research interests include migration, human rights, citizenship, transnationalism, refugee protection and asylum, humanitarian relief, and international law. Current research project examines the Liberian diaspora’s civic engagement both in the United States and in the process of postconflict peace building in Liberia, paying particular attention to the role of migration and state policies in influencing civic participation in each country. Worked at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Turkey and Guinea and Save the Children Foundation in Ethiopia. SLC, 2012–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Politics

People on the Move: Narrating Displacement, Critiquing Crisis, and Advocating for Refugees and Forced Migrants

Open , Seminar—Year

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres famously declared in 2007 that the 21st century would be one of “people on the move.” The idea that the term “refugee” should apply only to individuals who have been forced to flee their homes due to state persecution or armed conflict is of limited use in a world where the number of forced migrants is more than 65 million and the causes of displacement (both within states and across borders) are increasingly complex and interrelated—including conflict, extreme deprivation, and environmental degradation due to climate change. The refugee "crisis" in Europe has drawn attention to the plight of forced migrants worldwide, but liberal democracies continue to institute border controls and nonarrival measures in order to restrict access to asylum—citing security threats from smugglers, irregular migrants, and “bogus” refugees—while failing to recognize the structural violence of international migration regimes or taking responsibility for the active harm inflicted upon refugees. This yearlong seminar will draw upon case materials, selected readings (including policy briefs, academic articles, memoirs, and ethnographies), and documentary films to explore the causes and consequences of displacement. Special attention will be paid to the lived experiences of, and knowledge produced by, forced migrants. We will also examine the assumptions and actions of governments, the donor community, the United Nations, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that typically intervene on behalf of refugees. Complex ethical, legal, and policy issues will be considered, such as: (1) ethical dilemmas in the provision of protection and care for the most vulnerable groups, such as orphans and unaccompanied children, during refugee migrations; (2) contrasting models of care: camp settings vs. urban refugees; (3) legal status and distinctions between refugees, asylees, and other migrants; (4) decisions about “durable solutions”: repatriation, local integration, and third country resettlement; (5) the need for burden-sharing arrangements between countries of the global North and the global South (which host the vast majority of refugee populations); (6) states’ responsibilities and increasing restrictions on access to asylum; and (7) challenges that refugee migrations pose to state-centric concepts of citizenship. Experiential learning will be a key component of the course. Throughout the year, students will explore the link between global refugee movements and the status of refugees and other forced migrants in the United States through involvement in individual service-learning projects in their local community. Students are expected to engage in a community service activity that brings them into direct contact with refugees for at least three hours per week. Students may act as homework tutors, activity leaders for children, English conversation partners, teachers’ aides, or advocates promoting public awareness for refugees. Conference work will engage students in advocacy efforts on behalf of refugees and forced migrants and will be conducted in groups in both the fall and the spring semesters. In the fall, students will conduct research, in collaboration with Scholars at Risk, on the case of an imprisoned scholar and plan advocacy activities for the spring semester. Students will develop a social media campaign and conduct outreach to case stakeholders, including human rights organizations, the UN, and government officials. In the spring, in addition to implementing their advocacy plans, students will work in groups to conduct community needs assessments at their service sites and author grant proposals in response to identified needs.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Refugees, Human Rights, and the Failure of the Nation-State System

Open , Seminar—Spring

Refugees. Migrants. Illegal immigrants. Asylum seekers. In 2015, more than one million people entered the European Union (EU) seeking asylum. Many more embarked on perilous journeys in search of safe haven but never made it. On May 31, 2016, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that more than 880 migrants had died in a single week trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. What causes people to undertake such dangerous journeys? Why now? What impact are refugees having in Europe and other “host states” where they seek asylum? According to the United Nations, there are currently more than 60 million displaced persons in the world, more than at any time since the end of World War II. The recent increase in the worldwide displaced population is due in part to the civil conflict in Syria that began in 2011 and is now the largest refugee-producing crisis in the world, more than 4.8 million people having fled Syria and an even greater number of people—an estimated 6.5 million—displaced within Syria. Yet, Syria is just one of many countries from which refugees are fleeing. On the receiving end, much attention has been paid to Europe, where EU member states appear paralyzed, unable to agree on a coordinated response, resulting in increased migrant deaths and fears that the EU experiment may be doomed. Yet, the vast majority of refugees continue to be hosted by countries in the developing world, which receive precious little aid or attention. This course will examine the causes and consequences of forced displacement, paying particular attention to the challenges that refugee migrations pose to state-centric concepts of citizenship. Are refugees evidence of the failure of the nation-state system? What responsibilities do states have toward refugees? As early as 1951, Hannah Arendt described refugees as “the most symptomatic group in contemporary politics.” The concept of universal human rights rests upon the idea that individuals have rights simply because they are human, irrespective of their identities as citizens. Yet, it is the state, in international law, that is primarily entrusted with protecting and ensuring these rights. Given this, who is responsible for protecting refugees who, by definition, are fleeing persecution and are “unable or unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of their countries of nationality”? What is the role of the “international community” in responding to refugee crises? This course will explore these questions, along with other topics such as: (1) the assumptions and actions of governments, the donor community, the United Nations, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that typically intervene on behalf of refugees; (2) ethical dilemmas in the provision of protection and care; (3) contrasting models of care: camp settings vs. urban refugees; (4) legal status and distinctions among refugees, asylees, and other migrants; (5) decisions about “durable solutions”: repatriation, local integration, and third-country resettlement; (6) states’ responsibilities and increasing restrictions on access to asylum; and (7) the need for burden-sharing arrangements between countries of the global North and the global South, which host the vast majority of refugee populations.

Faculty

International Organization: The Politics of Global Governance

Open , Seminar—Fall

The most pressing issues of our time—climate change, global pandemics such as AIDS and SARS, world hunger and poverty, terrorism, refugee crises, human trafficking, global arms trade, and drug smuggling—are what former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan referred to as “problems without passports,” because they transcend national boundaries and cannot be solved by states acting unilaterally. Rather, Annan argued, such challenges require “blueprints without borders.” International organization may be the most, if not the only, appropriate forum for tackling transnational issues. This course examines international organizations per se, but its main focus is the broader concept of how the international community organizes to address collective problems. Increasingly, states choose to pool sovereignty in supranational institutions like the European Union and to cede authority in certain issue areas to intergovernmental organizations—both global, such as the United Nations, and regional, such as NATO—that then take on a life of their own. At the same time, nongovernmental actors, including nonprofit human rights organizations as well as multinational corporations, are interacting—both challenging and collaborating—with states in the international arena. What collective problems exist at the international level? What solutions are states and other actors pursuing? Why do some international organization efforts succeed and many fail? We will investigate these questions through a discussion of the international organization’s role in the areas of international migration, global justice, and responses to global health pandemics.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

Refugees: The Politics of Displacement

Open , Seminar—Year

Throughout the world, millions of individuals have been forced to flee their homes due to persecution and armed conflict. The majority of these people are women and children. In fact, nearly half of the world’s refugees are children under 18 years of age. Despite the existence of international guidelines such as the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention and a framework for responding to refugee emergencies, numerous challenges remain, including: how to determine who is a “bona fide” refugee; the need for burden-sharing arrangements between countries of the Global North and the Global South (which host the vast majority of refugee populations); how to safeguard and better provide for the most vulnerable groups, such as orphans and unaccompanied children, during forced migrations; and the need for global partnerships to combat smugglers and human traffickers. This yearlong service-learning course will explore the causes and consequences of forced displacement. We will also examine the assumptions and actions of governments, the donor community, the United Nations, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that typically intervene on behalf of refugees. Complex ethical, legal, and policy issues will be considered, including: (1) ethical dilemmas in the provision of protection and care; (2) contrasting models of care: camp settings vs. urban refugees; (3) legal status and distinctions among refugees, asylees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and other migrants; (4) decisions about “durable solutions”—repatriation, local integration, and third-country resettlement; (5) states’ responsibilities and increasing restrictions on access to asylum; and (6) challenges that refugee migrations pose to state-centric concepts of citizenship. Students will explore the link between global refugee movements and the status of refugees and other immigrants in America through participation in individual service-learning projects in their local community.

Faculty
Related Disciplines