The 1980 Refugee Act after Forty Years: Is There a Minnesota School of Refugee Studies?
This year, the IHRC will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1980 Refugee Act. Our yearlong program is organized around the framing question: Is There a Minnesota School of Refugee Studies? In posing this question, we do not presume that it exists, nor do we cast Minnesota as a pacesetter in shaping U.S. refugee politics. Moreover, our goal is not to renew American goodwill, although recalling such a sentiment is surely needed today more than ever. Rather, we hope that this framing will serve as an invocation to develop critical perspectives on the ethos of humanitarianism that structure refugees’ lives. We are occupying a moment in history, where the political present marked by the growing strength of white nationalism is so acutely felt; we cannot go on reproducing the same script that “we welcome refugees” in times like this. We want to put forth a counter-discourse, via conversations among and between invited and Minnesota-based/trained scholars, to recast the very notion of “Minnesota School” to become a category of critique.