Elizabeth Cullen Dunn

Associate Dean for Graduate Education

Professor of Geography

Office of the Executive Dean, College of Arts and Sciences; Department of Geography

  • elcdunn@indiana.edu
  • 812-856-7207
  • Website
  • Owen Hall
    College of Arts and Sciences
    790 E. Kirkwood Avenue
    Bloomington, Indiana 47405-7101


  • Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 1998


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. Using an ontological approach, she shows that displaced people become stuck in camps not only because of war, but because of the logic of humanitarianism, which traps people in states of uncertainty, extreme pressure, and eventually abandonment.No Path Homeis based on more than 16 months of ethnographic work in the Republic of Georgia, where Dunn lived and worked in a camp for victims of ethnic cleansing.

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.

Most of Dunn’s work has been done in the former Eastern Bloc. Her early work, which culminated in Privatizing Poland: Baby Food, Big Business and the Remaking of Labor, focused on the transition from socialism in former Warsaw Pact states. 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.

Her scholarly work has been published in Antipode, Cultural Anthropology, American Ethnologist, and Slavic Review. She also writes for wide-circulation media, including Slate, and Boston Review.