International refugee law between scholarship and practice

Rosemary Byrne, Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Current challenges to the traditionally privileged position of law in both refugee policy and refugee studies invite scholars to consider carefully the approach we take to our craft. This article argues that refugee law scholarship is surrounded by thin walls, as researchers broker the 'dual imperative' to simultaneously advance knowledge and protection in a field heavily influenced by policy interests and networks of practitioners that actively take part in, and promote, scholarly production. These close links between the field and the policy world continue to shape research agendas, methodologies, and scholarly positions. This article draws from Bourdieusian field theory and legal sociology to offer a prism through which to look at the forces that influence refugee law research and to consider their implications for scholarship. It is argued that greater sensitivity to the underlying dynamics of our profession is essential, not only to ensure more inclusivity in the community of scholars and expand the current canon of refugee law, but ultimately to sustain claims to policy relevance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-199
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Refugee Law
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Law


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