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Open access

Wenya Cheng and Geethanjali Selvaretnam


This article studies the multicultural experience of students who completed a group project in an undergraduate economics course. Students were required to work in groups of four consisting of at least two nationalities. Feedback on this multicultural experience was gathered through a questionnaire. The results show strong support for intervention by academic staff to promote multicultural interactions on campus, identify many benefits and highlight potential challenges. We found evidence that students interacted on topics wider than the project topic itself, such as differences in culture, university life, and leisure activities, and that almost half of them agreed that their quality of work improved when they worked in mixed groups. Cultural diversity in group work should be built into the early years of degree programmes to help students develop multicultural competency.

Open access

Embodied Agency

Creating Room for Maneuver through Dance in Palestine

Sara Christophersen

In this article I explore the experiences of three dance artists living and working in Palestine through the concept of “embodied agency.” Based on fieldwork in Palestine and a decade of professional engagement as a dancer and choreographer with the Palestinian dancing community, I examine how the body—through the practice of dance—creates movement in the artists’ lives. Th e article highlights how embodied and expressive spaces of dance expand the artists’ possibilities and room for maneuver. I argue that in the context of protracted occupation, like Palestine, where individuals have little possibility to impact their situation, zooming into the body can be a powerful way to identify spaces where it is possible to have influence on oneself and others.

Open access

Enlisted in struggle

Being Marxist in a time of protracted crisis

Ahmed Kanna

In this article, I analyze Marxist activists’ narratives of becoming Marxist and their practices in activist spaces. Drawing on Jeffrey Juris and Alex Khansnabish’s notion of “militant ethnography” and on Jodi Dean’s recuperation of the political party form of organizing, I ethnographically describe activists’ motivations to become Marxist and examine two events—a pro-Bernie political meeting and an anti-Trump rally—in which activists intervened with the Marxist idea of “uniting working-class struggles” in democratic spaces. I argue that the socialist party form of organization addresses two related dilemmas that anti-capitalist activists face in the context of systemic economic and political crises in the United States: how to develop class consciousness and how to engage in the seemingly impossible, personally risky endeavor of radically challenging capitalism.

Open access

The ethics of ESG

Sustainable finance and the emergence of the market as an ethical subject

Matthew Archer


 Sustainable finance is generally understood as the integration of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into the investment process. Based on participant observation of sustainable finance and impact investing conferences between 2015 and 2020, and a series of interviews with the sustainability team and several portfolio managers at a large European bank in 2018 and 2019, I show how the compulsion to define and measure sustainability indicators reflects the emergence of the market itself as an ethical subject, one that is capable of making the most efficient, and thus the most ethical, decisions. This has implications for ethical intersubjectivity in sustainability more broadly. I situate this claim alongside recent work in anthropology and geography on the translation of social and environmental values into financial values, as well as on work in the anthropology of ethics and its intersection with the anthropology of finance.

Open access

Forced-Voluntary Return

An Intersectional Approach to Exploring “Voluntary” Return in Toronto, Canada

Tanya Aberman


During the near decade of Conservative rule in Canada from 2006 to 2015, anti-refugee and anti-migrant discourse was continuously circulated by government officials. Social, economic, and physical restrictions were implemented based on the dichotomy of “deserving” versus “undeserving” migrants, and borders were created within communities. This article takes an intersectional approach to explore the reasons that some migrants chose to leave Canada “voluntarily” during that time, and the factors that forced them to do so. I offer the concept of forced-voluntary return to capture some of the tensions and messiness within migrant experiences that are neither completely voluntary nor forced. These tensions affirm the emerging calls in research to conceptualize migration on a spectrum from forced to voluntary, and contribute to understandings of migration management, the production of deportability, and the “voluntary” mobility of migrants by highlighting some of the ways in which intersecting identities impact migrants’ decisions about return.

Open access

Framing the “Refugee Hunter”

Gender and Nationalist Perspectives on Border Vigilance in Bulgaria

Kristina Ilieva

In this article, I explore the construction of the “refugee crisis” from the perspective of border vigilantes in Bulgaria. Drawing on ethnography in Harmanli, a border town with a refugee camp, the article explores how the identity and agency of the “refugee hunter” emerged. I argue that the gendered identity of the “refugee hunter” combines a national feminized victim and a vigilant masculinized protector. The masculinized protector patrols the Bulgarian-Turkish border in order to defend the victimized national community from the immigrant Other and the nongoverning state. The article illustrates that the refugee hunter identity has produced a new mode of hegemonic masculinity, where immigrant men and women are constructed as criminals, while men’ border patrols as heroic.

Open access

From Vulnerability to Trust

Personal Encounters and Bordering Processes in the British Refugees Welcome Movement

Pierre Monforte and Gaja Maestri


This article examines the complex and ambivalent nature of the encounters between British volunteers and refugees within the 2015 Refugees Welcome movement. The 72 interviews we conducted with volunteers active in different charities and informal networks reveal the significance of the logic of trust in these encounters. We show that although participants often base their engagement on claims that disrupt dominant narratives about border controls, they also tend to endorse and reproduce bordering processes based on the perceived trustworthiness of refugees and, sometimes, exclude some groups from their support. Taking insights from the literature on encounters and critical humanitarianism, our article highlights from a theoretical and empirical perspective how “ordinary participants” in the refugee support sector can subvert humanitarian borders, but also participate in the construction of new types of borders based on domopolitics. More generally, the article aims to highlight civil society's voluntary participation in the governance of migration.

Open access

“How to Live a Good Life”

Self-managing Reproductive Health for Adolescent Refugees in Kampala

George Palattiyil, Ann-Christin Zuntz, Harish Nair, Paul Bukuluki, and Kalyango Ronald Sebba

This article provides an ethnographically informed critique of the humanitarian self-management model that informs reproductive health trainings for young urban refugees in Kampala, Uganda. It draws on interviews with 16 adolescent refugees, as well as policymakers, aid workers and health care professionals in Kampala in April 2019. We found that reproductive health education training sessions are a site of gendered learning where displaced boys and girls gain an understanding of what it means “how to live a good life” and how to become marriage material. Their focus on self-control also reflects a wider shift in humanitarianism toward female empowerment as a tool of neoliberal governance. In a low-resource context, however, “self-managing” one’s reproductive health takes on a different meaning, as displaced adolescents weigh up opportunities for short-term income from transactional sex with imagined reproductive futures elsewhere.

Open access

I Alien

Crises of Presence and the Habitus of Migrancy

João Pina-Cabral

What is it to be alien? This article considers the debate concerning alienation/de-alienation launched by Hegel and revisited a half-century ago by Jacques Derrida. It examines the systemic reduction of legal rights of presence that migrants in contemporary Europe regularly encounter. Such experiences lead people to undergo a ‘loss of presence’ in the sense that they question their relationship with the world and the people around them. As Ernesto de Martino proposed, these occurrences constitute a ‘subjective alienation’ brought about by ‘objective alienation’. In this way, they impact one’s personal ontogeny, producing what I call a ‘habitus of migrancy’. As a contribution toward ethnographic theory, the article engages the role of long-term self-reflection in anthropological analysis.

Open access

Zeynep S. Mencutek


The increasing salience and variations of “voluntary” return techniques have not yet been thoroughly investigated in the context of Global South countries, which host the majority of displaced people. As the largest refugee host and transit country, the case of Turkey provides important insights on the role that these instruments and the very notion of “voluntariness” play for migration governance. This article specifically looks at how Turkey develops and implements its own “voluntary return” instruments. The analysis illustrates different ways in which “voluntary” returns are being institutionalized at central state and substate levels across the country. It shows how these national mechanisms are imposed at multiple sites, while also being diffused as practices in everyday interactions with refugees across the country. The arguments I put forward arise from qualitative research that combined mapping of policy papers, national legislation, and interviews with returnees and other relevant stakeholders.