The African Lecture Series at Hobart and William Smith will welcome Benjamin Lawrance, the Hon. Barber B. Conable Jr. Endowed Chair of International and Global Studies at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), as a guest scholar for both a campus talk and classroom visits.
Lawrance’s lecture, “African Refugees, American Asylum Law, and a Global Crisis,” will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library. In addition to the talk, which is free and open to the public, he will visit Africana studies and history classes as well as meet with interested students.
The author and co-author of numerous books and publications, Lawrance most recently released the book, “Amistad’s Orphans: An Atlantic Story of Children, Slavery, and Smuggling,” which explores West African child smuggling during the 19th century.
“Professor Lawrance is an exceptionally accomplished scholar,” says Assistant Professor of History Elizabeth Thornberry. “His historical research on the children of the Amistad complicates our understanding of one of the most famous episodes in the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, while his work on refugee and asylum law directly addresses one of the most pressing international issues of the present day.”
The African Lecture Series is an ongoing program at the Colleges. Two guest scholars will also give talks during spring of 2016, with details to be announced.
Lawrance is a professor in the RIT Department of Sociology and Anthropology. He is the author of several books that center on the subjects of asylum, refugees, expert testimony, historical and contemporary trafficking in women and children in Africa. His essays appear in numerous publications including, the Journal of African History, Biography, Slavery & Abolition, African Economic History, Anthropological Quarterly, Cahiers d’Études Africaines and the African Studies Review.
A legal consultant on the contemporary political, social and cultural climate in West Africa, Lawrance has served as an expert witness for more than 290 asylum claims of West Africans in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Israel, and other nations. His opinions have been featured in appellate rulings in the U.S. and the U.K. He volunteers as a country conditions expert for Amnesty International USA.
Lawrance earned his A.M. and Ph.D. from Stanford University, and an M.A. and B.A. with honors from University College London. His research interests include comparative and contemporary slavery, human trafficking, cuisine and globalization, human rights, refugee issues and asylum policies.