Asylum Lab Syllabus

Course Summary

Asylum in Crisis – Spring 2021

The asylum system may be breaking down. Since participating in the building of the international asylum system in the aftermath of World War II, the US has increasingly retreated from its obligations to admit people suffering from persecution into the country even as turmoil around the world has vastly increased the number of people seeking refuge.

This course will interrogate our contemporary place in the history of asylum through three main channels: narratives and the stories that are being told (and suppressed); history; and federal record keeping about the asylum process. It is a special team-taught course being offered through the Polonsky Humanities Lab that brings together approaches from literary studies, public history, and digital humanities. We will explore narratives of asylum (in English and, for students with the facility, Spanish), place the contemporary moment in the long history of immigration to the US, and build new skills in working with data.