The Boxes of Belonging: Refugees, Education, and our Collective Future

16th October 2019 : 17:00 - 19:00

Category: Seminar

Speaker: Sarah Dryden-Petersen, Graduate School of Education, Harvard

Location: Department of Education, Seminar Room G/H

Convener: David Mills

Seminar Abstract


The history of global refugee education policy and practice has included vacillation among approaches based on liberation, standardization, and localization. Out of the last decade has emerged a radical new policy moment in refugee education that is both circumscribed by exclusionary politics of migration and seeks to address dilemmas of uncertainty refugee young people experience in pursuing education in exile: nationalization. The approach of nationalizing refugee education focuses on inclusion of refugees in access to national schools, curriculum, and certification. In this seminar, I will explore how this global policy of inclusion both reshapes and reinforces the ‘boxes of belonging’ for refugees. I will examine if and how it does, or could, open a crack in the limited political sanctuary that exists for refugees globally and enable opportunities for re-negotiation of the power nation-states have in shaping present and future opportunities for young people through education.

Open to the public: All welcome. No registration required


About the speaker


Sarah Dryden-Petersen’s work focuses on the role that education plays in building peaceful and participatory societies. Her work is situated in conflict and post-conflict settings in sub-Saharan Africa, with a specific focus on refugee education. Her research is strengthened through her long-term collaborations with UN agencies, NGOs, and communities.




In 2019, the University of Oxford’s Department of Education celebrates the 100th year since the passing of a statute creating what was known in 1919 as the University Department for the Training of Teachers. To celebrate our centenary a year-long series of activities will be delivered to address some of the department’s top initiatives for 2019, answer some of the big questions facing education today and to reveal the advancements the department has made to the study of and research in the field of education. Join us as we mark our 100th year and discover more about our anniversary here.

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Event generously supported by the Astor Travel Fund.