I chose the title “Themes of Displacement” for our Junior Visiting Scholars’ Volume because it lends itself to a wide range of considerations within different academic disciplines. In particular, “Themes of Displacement” challenges anthropologists and political scientists to reexamine some of our preconceived assumptions about peoples and places.
For example, my anthropological research was in Sierra Leone, where the 1991-2002 civil war forced millions of Sierra Leoneans to flee across national borders to settle temporarily or permanently in environments in which they had few cultural connections, uncertain legal rights, limited control over their lives, poor economic prospects, and significant risks to health and survival. Although refugees the world over experience similar problems, beleaguered aid agencies tend to see all refugees in the same light. In fact, different refugee populations have very distinct collective identities. They do not tell the same story.