The Sarah van Walsum lecture is an annual lecture dedicated to Sarah’s work, which functions as the yearly opening of the Master International Migration and Refugee Law at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.


Past Lectures


5 September 2016: Deborah Anker

Social Justice, Gender and Legal Change in Asylum Law

Legal change is often thought of as change from the top down – change brought about by new legislation, regulations, precedent administrative, and federal court decisions, or changes resulting from major impact litigation. Gender asylum in the United States, however, tells an unusual story of legal change from the bottom up, grounded, at least in significant part, in direct representation of women refugees. Deborah Anker will tell the story of gender asylum in the United States, which provides a counter-example of how direct representation can actually change the culture of decision-making and be an effective vehicle for meaningful legal change. At the same time, such representation, rather than disempowering clients, can create authentic and non-hierarchical relationships between lawyer and client.

Deborah Anker is Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Harvard Law School Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC). Author of a leading treatise, Law of Asylum in the United States, Anker has co-drafted ground-breaking gender asylum guidelines and amicus curiae briefs. Professor Anker is one of the most widely known asylum scholars and practitioners in the United States.


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29 September 2015: Peggy Levitt

Global Social Protection: Protecting and Providing Outside the Nation-State Framework

In today’s world, more than 220 million people live in a country that is not their own. Nevertheless, the provision of social protection, and the policy-making that undergirds it, remains largely confined to the national level. How are people on the move protected and provided for in this new global context? Have institutional sources of social welfare begun to cross borders to meet the needs of transnational individuals? In this first Sarah van Walsum Lecture, Peggy Levitt (Wellesley College and Harvard University) introduces a new Global Social Protection (GSP) research agenda aimed at answering questions about which protections exist for transnational individuals, which protections can travel across borders, who can access these protections, and who is left out.

Peggy Levitt is Chair and Professor of Sociology at Wellesley College and a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations. She is also the co-director of the Transnational Studies Initiative at Harvard.

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In Memoriam Sarah van Walsum