Elizabeth Cullen Dunn’s work focuses on forced migration. For more than a decade, she has worked with refugees and internally displaced people. In her latest book, No Path Home: Humanitarian Camps and the Grief of Displacement, looks critically at the refugee camp as a space of both bureaucratic regulation and existential crisis.

Dunn also works in food studies. From 2001-2008, her work focused particularly on global food safety regulations, and the new spaces they created. Working in Colorado’s beef industry, Poland’s pork industry and fruit and vegetable processing in the Republic of Georgia, Dunn investigated how regulations put forth by USDA, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the European Union turned places from kill floors and lairages to the back end of a cow into new sites of scientific investigation and bureaucratic regulation. Her new work returns to her roots in labor studies, and looks at the ways American meatpacking has become dependent on refugee labor.

Beginning in 2001, she focused on the former USSR, particularly on the non-Russian republics. In addition to her work in Georgia, she has also conducted research on displaced Chechens in Kyrgyzstan.

My current research focuses on humanitarian aid to refugees and internally displaced people.  I am particularly interested in the problem of protracted displacement, and why humanitarian aid may prevent displaced people from resettlement for decades or generations.

A second focus of my work is on food aid and food systems. In the past, I have worked on the global regulation of food safety. Some of my work focuses on food aid and other ways people obtain, prepare, and find meaning in food during armed conflict. 

Research Topics:

  • Refugees, Internally Displaced People, and Forced Migration
  • Conflict
  • Humanitarian Aid
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Postsocialism


  • Refugees and internally displaced people; Humanitarian aid; European Union; Russian foreign policy, Poland, and Georgia

Research Area:

  • Human Environment Interaction and Sustainability
  • Environment and Human Health
  • Environmental Policy and Management


  • European Union
  • humanitarianism
  • Migration
  • Poland
European Studies, Russian, International Studies, Geography
PhD, Johns Hopkins University, Anthropology, 1998
MA, University of Chicago, Anthropology, 1993
BA, University of Rochester, Anthropology and Chinese, 1991