December Seminar

The reproduction of vulnerability:

The life of Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh

Date       Monday 9th December 2019

Time       5:45 pm for 6:15 pm start

Venue    Level 4 Linkway, John Medley Building (West), University of Melbourne

Please RSVP here by 4th December 2019 for catering purposes.

For enquiries, please contact

The University of Melbourne’s Myanmar Research Network and the Australia Myanmar Institute are pleased to invite you to a presentation followed by a moderated discussion on ‘The reproduction of vulnerability: The life of Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh’.

Abstract of presentation by Professor Nasir Uddin: This talk examines the plight of a group of stateless people known as the Rohingyas, who live in the borderlands of Bangladesh and Myanmar. Since stateless people belong to no state, they cannot claim any rights from any state – they lack what Hannah Arendt described as ‘the right to have rights’. Therefore, the lives of stateless people can easily become subject to injustices, discrimination, and atrocities. This talk illuminates how the state is very much present in Rohingya life, and how the type of ‘bio-politics’ first described by Michel Foucault shape and control Rohingya lives. With empirically informed analysis, the talk explores how the vulnerability of stateless people is reproduced in both the place of origin and in places of migration by state institutions, practices, and agents. Presenter:

Professor Nasir Uddin is a cultural anthropologist based in Bangladesh, and Professor of Anthropology at Chittagong University. Uddin studied and carried out research at University of Oxford, School of Oriental and African Studies, London School of Economics, Heidelberg University, VU University Amsterdam, Ruhr-University Bochum, Delhi School of Economics, the University of Hull, Kyoto University, and the University of Dhaka. His research interests include refugees, statelessness, and citizenship; deterritoriality of identity and transborder movements; indigeneity and identity politics; notions of power and the state in everyday life; the Rohingyas; the Chittagong Hill Tracts; and South Asia more generally. His forthcoming book is “The Rohingya: A Case of Subhuman” (Oxford University Press, 2019).

A question and answer session will be conducted after the presentation, following an initial discussion led by two discussants, who will provide comments from their disciplinary perspectives and drawing on their respective research on issues related to statelessness:

Dr Anthony Ware is Associate Professor in International and Community Development at Deakin University, Melbourne. Dr Ware was Director of the Australia Myanmar Institute from 2013-2017, and has previously lectured at the University of Melbourne. His research focus is on international development in conflict-affected situations, and the relationship between everyday peacebuilding and community-led local development, particularly in Myanmar. More broadly, his research revolves around the impact of socio-political factors on participatory development, and thus he has also worked on issues such as Myanmar’s previous sanctions regime, fragile states, democratic transition, the role of faith and faith-based organisations in development, and theoretical and case study evaluations of development in difficult socio-political contexts. He has published more than two dozen academic publications, including, with Costas Laoutides, Myanmar’s ‘Rohingya’ Conflict (Hurst 2018).

Dr Michelle Foster is a Professor and the inaugural Director of the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness at Melbourne Law School. Dr Foster has published widely in the field of international refugee law, including International Refugee Law and Socio-Economic Rights: Refuge from Deprivation (CUP, 2007), and, with James C. Hathaway, The Law of Refugee Status, Second Edition, (CUP, 2014). Her latest book (co-authored with Hélène Lambert), is International Refugee Law and the Protection of Stateless Persons, published in 2019. Dr Foster teaches Refugee Law and International Refugee Law at Melbourne Law School, and in 2017 taught in the International Summer School in Forced Migration at Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre. Dr Foster has undertaken consultancy work for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and training of refugee tribunal members in New Zealand and Australia.

Note: The views expressed in the presentation and discussion are those of the author and individuals involved, and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the groups and institutions hosting this event.