Laura Robson

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Laura Robson

Laura Robson

William L. and Donna F. Oliver-McCourtney Professor of History

I actually trained as a classical pianist and almost went into a professional career as a performer—even though I eventually went another direction you never really escape from being a musician!

“My research is inherently global: it is about how people around the world access civil, political, and social rights in circumstances of refugeedom and statelessness. The research of migration and citizenship is reliant on rigorous intellectual and scholarly inquiry and is crucial for informing and supporting our shared local, national, and global political communities as they face all the tough questions surrounding forced migration, refugeedom, and statelessness.”

It is crucial to understand that statelessness and refugeedom are essentially modern problems, which came about only with the rise of particular kinds of exclusionary states—something that happened, at the earliest, around the beginning of the twentieth century. Before that, people had various kinds of capacities to move around and settle in different spaces around the globe. This is incredibly important, because once we can see that other societies in the past have had other understandings of political belonging and different approaches to migration—as well as different standards and practices for accessing rights—it opens up whole new realms of political possibility for us in the present day.

Laura is currently working closely with a wonderful historian of Syria at the University of Manitoba, Jennifer Dueck, on a digital humanities project, Stateless Histories. They co-edit the project, along with several other contributors from universities all over the globe who are researching various aspects of refugee history. “It’s been incredibly exciting to have so many collaborators working in various parts of the world; it lets us begin to put together a really comprehensive and nuanced picture of what displacement and dispossession looks like for different communities of refugees and stateless people worldwide.” 

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Student Impact in the Classroom

“My students have gained research experience through the Stateless Histories project, working on doing research on individual case studies, putting together visuals and maps, and liaising with new contributors to the project.” –Laura Robson

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