Dr Anne Irfan

Dr Anne Irfan

PhD Alumna

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Arabic, English
Key Expertise
Modern Middle East, Refugee History, Migration Studies

About me

Anne Irfan is a historian of the modern Middle East, specialising in migration and socio-political history in Palestine and the Levant. She has a BA(Hons) from Oxford University, and a Dual MA/MSc in International History from Columbia University and the LSE. She spent a semester as a visiting research student at Columbia with the LSE Partnership Mobility programme.

Ms Irfan won the 2017 Ibrahim Dakkak Award for Best Essay on Jerusalem for her work, 'Is Jerusalem international or Palestinian? Rethinking UNGA Resolution 181'. She has also spoken in the UK Parliament and at the UN Headquarters in New York about the situation of Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.

She was awarded a PhD in International History in January 2019 and taught in the department as a Graduate Teaching Assistant until June 2019.

She is currently a Departmental Lecturer at the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University.


"Internationalising Palestine: UNRWA and Palestinian Nationalism in the Refugee Camps, 1967-82"

Her thesis looks at the history of the Palestinian refugee camps in the Levant in the years 1967-82, which constituted the zenith of the nationalist movement in exile. In particular, it examines the role of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which has been responsible for administering the camps since 1950. The case study of UNRWA and the camps is used to investigate the bigger historical intersection between nationalism and internationalism in the twentieth century. The research is based on sources from a wide range of archives, including UNRWA’s own registry in Amman, the Institute for Palestine Studies in Beirut, and the UN Headquarters archive in New York.

Expertise Details

Modern Middle East; Palestine; Israel; Lebanon; Refugee History; Migration Studies; Imperial/Colonial History; United Nations; Post-Colonialism; Islam; Nationalism


Conference and workshop papers

  • SOAS Centre for Palestine Studies Annual Seminar (Feb 2018) | Paper: 'Revisiting Palestinian refugee camp history: The role of UNRWA'
  • The Regulation of Palestinian Everyday Life', LSE Middle East Centre (Nov 2017) | Paper: 'Institutionalised Regulation: UNRWA's intitutional Framework before and after Oslo'
  • Sir Patrick Gillam Workshop on Contentious Politics in the Middle East, LSE (Oct 2017) | Paper: ‘The Impact of 1967: Resistance and Revolution in the Palestinian refugee camps’
  • British Society for Middle East Studies (BRISMES) Annual Conference, Edinburgh University (July 2017) |Paper: ‘From Nakba to Naksa: The Impact of Migration on Palestinian Politics’
  • ‘Rethinking Revolutions’ workshop, LSE (May 2017) |Paper: ‘“We must not lose the right of revolution”: The Palestinian thawra in Lebanon’
  • British International History Group (BIHG) Annual Conference, Edinburgh University (Sept 2016) |Paper: ‘International Governance through Institutions: The case of UNRWA’
  • Archives and Records Association (ARA) Annual Conference (Sept 2016) | Paper: ‘Over-researched, Under-represented: The case of the Palestinian Refugee Camps’
  • British Society for Middle East Studies (BRISMES) Annual Conference, University of Trinity St David (July 2016) | Paper: ‘Palestine in Exile: The (Inter-)Nationalism of Refugee Camp Communities’
  • ‘Research in the Palestinian Refugee Camps of Lebanon’ workshop, Institute for Palestine Studies, Beirut (May 2016) | Paper: ‘Research with/out Responsibility: The Role of Western Academics in the refugee camps of Lebanon’
  • ‘Disciplining the World – The Rise of Global Standards’ workshop, Columbia University (April 2015) | Paper: ‘The Internationalised Nation: States on the world stage and the case of Israel/Palestine’
  • ‘Refugee Voices’ Conference, Oxford University (March 2014) | Paper: ‘Stateless Governance: The Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon’
  • Right of Return Conference, Boston University (April 2013) | Paper: ‘Handing back the keys: UNRWA and the Right of Return’
  • International and Global History Conference, Warwick University (March 2012) | Paper: ‘“Nests of the Resistance:” The Politics of UNRWA and the West Bank refugee camps’

Honours and awards

  • University of Sussex Award for Outstanding and Innovative Undergraduate Teaching (May 2018)
  • Ibrahim Dakkak Annual Award for Best Essay on Jerusalem (January 2017)
  • Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL): Travel Grant (March 2016)
  • Columbia University: Alliance Fellowship (June 2011)
  • Peace Executive Organization: International Peace Scholarship (September 2010)
  • BUNAC: BEST Award (July 2010)