Emily A. Lynch

Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology
PhD 2013, The University of Texas at Austin


My current book project manuscript explores how Congolese refugees living in a camp in Rwanda find themselves trapped between their old, prosperous life in Congo, and their new life on the other side. For fifteen years, Gihembe camp has been home to 20,000 refugees who fled war in the Kivu provinces of eastern Congo in the mid-1990s. The camp's protection of these lives that have escaped death is ostensibly temporary, but in practice it has dragged on indefinitely. In order even to qualify for humanitarian protection, refugees are made to prove their neediness to a system that recognizes only trauma and vulnerability. In the process, they become the figure they are made to perform: incomplete, immobile, and absolutely dependent. My research focuses on how the refugee is stranded by the logic and practice of humanitarianism, which refuse to acknowledge how humanitarian intervention itself further immobilizes the refugee and how endemic violence is built into the system of life-giving support. I theorize the refugee as a product of these mobilizations in conflict, forced to live in an abject, liminal space indefinitely.

To learn more about Professor Lynch:  https://sewanee.academia.edu/EmilyLynch