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Refugia Roundtable

Imagining Refugia: Thinking Outside the Current Refugee Regime

Nicholas Van Hear, Veronique Barbelet, Christina Bennett and Helma Lutz


Against the background of the refugee and migration crises of the last three years, this contribution takes as a starting point recent proposals that explore alternatives to the current international migration and refugee architecture. One strand of proposals explores the idea of new nations, cities, or polities for refugees and migrants—often dismissed as fantasies by many commentators. After briefly reviewing these proposals, the article explores the possibility not of a new “refugee nation,” but rather a new kind of transnational polity—Refugia—created and governed by refugees and migrants themselves, and which links refugee and migrant communities globally. Such a transnational polity is imperfectly prefigured in many of the transnational practices that refugees and migrants deploy and the environments in which they find themselves today. Consolidating them pragmatically into a common polity—Refugia—might prove to be a way out of the current impasse.