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Open access

Living Through and Living On?

Participatory Humanitarian Architecture in the Jarahieh Refugee Settlement, Lebanon

Riccardo Luca Conti, Joana Dabaj, and Elisa Pascucci

Abstract

In this article, we examine the school project implemented by the architecture charity CatalyticAction in the informal refugee settlement of Jarahieh, in the Bekaa, Lebanon. In doing so, we propose an approach to participatory humanitarian architecture that extends beyond the mere act of designing “together” an “object building.” We see participatory architecture as a process that develops incrementally through the socioeconomic life of precarious communities—through what we call the “living through” and “living on” of participation. While remaining attentive to the infrastructural and political limitations to architectural durability in refugee settlements, we foreground the social life of architectural forms, and consider the built environment as not simply “used,” but produced and (re)productive through time, beyond, and often in spite of, humanitarian interventions.

Open access

Heather Wurtz and Olivia Wilkinson

Abstract

Power dynamics of global decision-making have meant that local faith actors have not been frequently heard in the context of refugee response. The development of new global refugee and humanitarian frameworks gives hope that there will be greater inclusion of Southern-led, faith-based responses. A closer look, however, demonstrates discrepancies between the frameworks used in global policy processes and the realities of local faith actors in providing refugee assistance. We present primary research from distinct case studies in Mexico and Honduras, which counters much of what is assumed about local faith actors in refugee services and aid. Interventions that are considered to be examples of good practice in the global South are not always congruent with those conceptualized as good practices by the international community. Failure to recognize and integrate approaches and practices from the global South, including those led by actors inspired by faith, will ultimately continue to replicate dominant global power structures.

Open access

Managing a Multiplicity of Interests

The Case of Irregular Migration from Libya

Melissa Phillips

Abstract

Libya is a significant transit country for irregular migration to Europe and is therefore the site of much effort by external policy makers, notably the European Union. External actors have been unable to formalize workable agreements with Libyan authorities to address or stop onward migration to Europe. Instead, they have been forced to develop arrangements with Libya's neighboring countries to work around this impasse. This article examines the rhetoric behind efforts by individual European countries and the European Union to implement externally produced migration policies. From crisis narratives to invoking a humanitarian imperative to “save lives,” it is argued that these tropes justify various, at times competing, agendas. This results in almost no tangible improvement to the situation of irregular migrants or the capacity of authorities to deal with irregular migration, with one exception being that of the Libyan coast guard.

Open access

Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and Juliano Fiori

Abstract

In this interview with Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Juliano Fiori—Head of Studies (Humanitarian Affairs) at Save the Children—reflects on Eurocentrism and coloniality in studies of and responses to migration. In the context of ongoing debates about the politics of knowledge and the urgency of anticolonial action, Fiori discusses the ideological and epistemological bases of responses to migration, the Western character of humanitarianism, the “localization of aid” agenda, and the political implications of new populisms of the Right.

Open access

Noncitizens’ Rights

Moving beyond Migrants’ Rights

Sin Yee Koh

Abstract

In this reflective essay, I argue that it is timely to think of noncitizens’ rights rather than migrants’ rights per se. Using insights gained from my research on expatriates in Brunei and Malaysia, I show how expatriates become institutionalized as perpetual noncitizens and therefore systematically excluded from the assemblage of rights afforded to “recognized” residents. In other words, like their relatively underprivileged migrant counterparts, expatriates are also subjected to differentiated rights tied to their noncitizen status. Linking this insight to my reading of recent scholarship on “forced transnationalism” and “hierarchies of deservingness,” I discuss how these conceptual tools could be useful in advancing a research agenda on noncitizens’ rights. Finally, I reflect on the role universities can play in supporting and advancing this agenda.

Open access

Notes around Hospitality as Inhabitation

Engaging with the Politics of Care and Refugees’ Dwelling Practices in the Italian Urban Context

Camillo Boano and Giovanna Astolfo

Abstract

Hospitality has become a dominant notion in relation to asylum and immigration. Not only is it often used in public and state discourses, it is also prevalent in social analysis, in its ambivalent relationship with hostility and the control and management of population. Grounded in the Derridean suggestion of hospitality as “giving place” (2000: 25), we offer a reflection on hospitality centered around the notion of inhabitation. Framing hospitality as inhabitation helps to move away from problematic asymmetrical and colonial approaches to migration toward acknowledging the multiplicity of transformative experiences embedded in the city. It also enhances a more nuanced understanding of the complex entanglements of humanitarian dilemmas, refugees’ struggle for recognition and their desire for “opacity.” This article draws on five years of teaching-based engagement with the reality of refugees and asylum seekers hosted in the Sistema di Protezione Richiedenti Asilo e Rifugiati in Brescia, Italy.

Open access

Christine Moderbacher

Abstract

More than a year after the Brussels district Molenbeek came to international attention as “ISIS's European capital,” an unplanned encounter during a visit at my former field site leads to a conversation about the struggles and concerns that people are facing in this much-talked-about place. The discussion on a small restaurant terrace wanders off into disappointments and adjustments during research and life and is marked by a shared feeling of uncertainty that mirrors the atmosphere of a city that has seldom been portrayed beyond ephemeral media descriptions.

Open access

Rafael Guendelman Hales

Abstract

“Objects Removed for Study” is a creative remaking of a fraction of the Library of Ashurbanipal (part of the Assyrian collection of the British Museum) by a group of women from the Iraqi Community Association in London. Inspired by the main role of the library as a guide for the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal, and considering the current situation in Iraq, the women were invited to rewrite and re-create a series of ceramic books and artifacts. This project aims to critically rethink both the identity and the role of these old artifacts in the articulation of new sensitivities and possibilities in today's context of displacement.

Open access

Simone Toji

Abstract

This is a story about the disturbed perception of an elderly person of Polish origin who is living through the effects of dementia. Throughout his discontinuous flashes of consciousness, the text plays with senses of alterity and the invisibility of different groups who lived or are still living in Bom Retiro, a neighborhood in the city of São Paulo. The story refers symbolically to a sense of “discovery” of new migration patterns in the city when south-south migration flows became prominent. The existence of different groups of nationalities is also represented in the narrative by the characters’ use of terms borrowed from various languages. While Polish is recovered by the main character in order to explore a sense of belonging, words in Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese are appropriated by him and other figures to establish a certain degree of alterity in relation to the migrants who are native speakers of these three languages.

Open access

Places of Otherness

Comparing Eastleigh, Nairobi, and Xiaobei, Guangzhou, as Sites of South-South Migration

Neil Carrier and Gordon Mathews

Abstract

This article looks at two urban landscapes critical for mobility within the Global South: Eastleigh, Kenya, and Xiaobei, China. While different, they are both centers of global trade that attract migrants seeking livelihoods, and are also regarded with great ambivalence within the countries that host them. We explore this ambivalence, showing how it links to fear of the “others” who animate them, and to broader politics in which migrants become caught. Such places often simultaneously attract members of the host society for a taste of the other, or business opportunities, yet also repel and induce fear as places of danger. For the migrant population, there is also ambivalence—as they are places that offer both opportunity for social mobility, yet also places of hard lives and immobility. In short, both are critical nodes in patterns of South-South mobility where dynamics of such mobility and reaction to it can be understood.