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Karen Jacobsen

Tue, Jan 12, 2021    1:15pm

Exploring the Impact of Displacement on Cities: A Framework for Analysis

Lecture by Professor Karen Jacobsen, Henry J. Leir Professor in Global Migration, Director of the Refugees in Towns Project at the Feinstein International Center, The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Many cities of the global south have thousands of displaced people (refugees) and other migrants living in them – either stuck in transit, or settled in some way into the city. These migrants have different legal statuses and are often highly mobile both within and between cities of the same country, and as they move onwards to other countries, or sometimes return home. But at any one time, cities can hold large actual numbers (eg. 250,000 in Cairo), or a large proportion of their population (eg. Jordan’s border city of Irbid).

What kind of impact does a large semi-permanent populations of displaced people have on the cities of the global South? This talk proposes a framework for conceptualizing this impact, and proposes two factors – the presence of humanitarian agencies and funding, and whether host governments elect to put refugees in camps or not – as important in determining urban outcomes.

Karen Jacobsen is the Henry J. Leir Professor in Global Migration at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and directs the Refugees in Towns Project at the Feinstein International Center. Professor Jacobsen’s current research explores urban displacement and global migration, with a focus on the livelihoods and financial resilience of migrants and refugees, and on climate- and environment-related mobility. She is currently at work on a book that examines the impact of displacement on cities. In 2013-2014, she was on leave from Tufts, leading the Joint IDP Profiling Service (JIPS) at United Nations in Geneva. From 2000-2005, she directed the Alchemy Project, which explored the use of microfinance as a way to support people in refugee camps and other displacement settings. Prof. Jacobsen’s areas of expertise include refugee and migration issues, humanitarian assistance, urban impact, and climate migration. Her books include A View from Below: Conducting Research in Conflict Zones (with Mazurana and Gale, Cambridge UP 2013 ); and The Economic Life of Refugees (Lynne Rienner, 2005). Her Ph.D. is in Political Science is from MIT. She works closely with UNHCR and other UN agencies and international NGOs. She is a citizen of South Africa and the U.S., and lives in Brookline, MA and western Maine.

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