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Simpson Center for the Humanities

Announcing the 2020-21 Sawyer Seminar on Humanitarianisms Pre-doctoral Fellows

The Simpson Center for the Humanities is pleased to announce that Gozde Burcu Ege and Mediha Sorma will be joining the Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Humanitarianisms: Migrations and Care through the Global South as pre-doctoral fellows for 2020-21. Led by Arzoo Osanloo (Law, Societies & Justice) and Cabeiri Robinson (Jackson School of International Studies), Humanitarianisms seeks to decolonize the rhetoric and understanding of humanitarianism by examining the histories of forced migration and practices of humanitarian care for forced migrants, including both ‘conventional’ and ‘humanitarian refugees’, that developed outside of Europe and North America.

Burcu Ege is in the Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Near and Middle East Studies. A Fulbright-Hayes DDRA fellow, Burcu’s research examines how Palestinian refugee-citizen youth who have long been conceived as recipients of humanitarian aid are themselves practicing voluntary care and relief work in a context new waves of refugees coming to the long-established refugee camps of Jordan. Her dissertation, “From Crises to Ordinary Precarity: Palestinian Youth as New Practitioners of Humanitarian Governance in Amman, Jordan,” focuses on local humanitarianism in the context of long-term displacement. Her project challenges the assumed link between refugees and aid by examining how refugees themselves engage in forms of humanitarian practice under condition of long-term displacement and precarious legal status.

Mediha Sorma is a PhD candidate in the Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. Her dissertation, “Subaltern Mothering and Political Elsewhere: Militant Mothers of Kurdish Resistance Towards a Stateless Freedom,” is a study of Kurdish women’s reproductive and mothering practices as a form of care-based resistance in contemporary Turkey, where war and state violence figure as a normative social condition for Kurdish people instead of a state of exception. It examines gender and sexuality as central to the construction of migrant subjectivities and seeks to understand how Turkey manages its humanitarian obligations with its drive to extinguish Kurdish autonomy “within” its borders in ways that are different than the biopolitical logics of the Anglo-European liberal nation-states.

Both Burcu and Sorma will be in residence at The Simpson Center for 2020-21, working on their dissertations and participating in the Sawyer Seminar Series, which is made possible by a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation, with support from the Simpson Center for the Humanities and the Graduate School.

Congratulations to Burcu and Mediha, and our warm thanks to all who applied.