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The duty to be generous (Karam): Alternatives to rights-based asylum in the Middle East

"British Academy Lecture on Africa, Asia and the Middle East", delivered by Professor Dawn Chatty FBA, on 14 March 2017 (venue: The British Academy).

Professor Dawn Chatty FBA, University of Oxford

Chaired by: Professor Charles Tripp FBA, SOAS, University of London

Refuge and asylum in the Middle East has become a highly contested notion with many Western concepts competing with local and regional understandings. The Western legal standard of providing protection is a rights-based construction fashionable in public discourse. This lecture explores the local culturally specific alternatives to UN rights-based recognition of ‘protection’ to people classified as refugees. That is the ‘duty’ approach to providing refuge and asylum, the social and sometimes religious duty to provide protection to a stranger. In the Middle East this is best expressed through the institutions of Karam and Sharaf (generosity and hospitality).

About the speaker:
Professor Dawn Chatty is an Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Forced Migration and former Director of the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University. She is Emeritus Fellow at St Cross College and Honorary Secretary of the Council for British Research in the Levant.  She is the author of Displacement and Dispossession in the Modern Middle East (Cambridge University Press).

The lecture was chaired by: Professor Charles Tripp FBA, SOAS, University of London

More about the Lectures on Africa, Asia and the Middle East