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The Boy on the Beach

The Fragility of Canada's Discourses on the Syrian Refugee "Crisis

Petra Molnar

The contours of Canadian refugee policies have in recent years fluctuated from a narrative of 'bogus' refugees requiring a tough approach of interdiction to one of urgent humanitarian assistance. These rapid discursive shifts highlight the fragility of how Canada's humanitarian responses, and its place in the world, are conceptualized. Using the case study of Canada's responses to the Syrian conflict, this short paper argues that state responses must be critically interrogated in order to move away from homogenizing narratives grounded in tropes such as ‘fear’, ‘floods’ and ‘crisis’, which continue to impact how state, media, and public discourse handle the influx of refugees. Examining how the Canadian state performs its sovereignty in response to the Syrian conflict is instructive to reveal its broader nation-building projects, ones which utilize particular tropes of fear to justify suspicion and exclusion of bodies that have been cast as dangerous and uncontrollable. While Canada is once again presenting itself as a global leader in refugee and human rights issues, it remains to be seen whether these more humane policies can withstand the continuing millennial border anxieties of the West when facing the prospect of resettling increasingly large numbers of refugees.

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Sabina Barone, Veronika Bernard, Teresa S Büchsel, Leslie Fesenmyer, Bruce Whitehouse, Petra Molnar, Bonny Astor and Olga R. Gulina

THE REFUGEE CRISIS AND RELIGION: Secularism, Security and Hospitality in Question Edited by Luca Mavelli and Erin K. Wilson. London and New York: Rowman and Littlefield International, 2017. 305 pages, ISBN 9781783488940

MUSLIMISCHE DIVERSITÄT: Ein Kompass zur religiösen Alltagspraxis in Österreich [Muslim Diversity: A Guide to Religious Everyday Practices in Austria] Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung series. Edited by Ednan Aslan, Jonas Kolb, and Erol Yildiz. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 2017. 506 pages, ISBN 9783658175535 (print); 9783658175542 (e-book)

BUREAUCRACY, LAW AND DYSTOPIA IN THE UNITED KINGDOM’S ASYLUM SYSTEM John R. Campbell. London: Routledge, 2017. 202 pages, ISBN 978113821495

ETHNIC CHURCH MEETS MEGACHURCH: Indian American Christianity in Motion Prema A. Kurien. New York: New York University Press, 2017. 281 pages, ISBN 9781479804757 (hardback); 9781479826377 (paperback)

FORGING AFRICAN COMMUNITIES: Mobility, Integration and Belonging Edited by Oliver Bakewell and Loren B. Landau. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. 321 pages, ISBN 9781137581938 (hardcover); 9781137581945 (e-book)

DETAINING THE IMMIGRANT OTHER: Global and Transnational Issues Edited by R. Furman, D. Epps, and G. Lamphear. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. 220 pages, ISBN 9780190222574 (hardback)

THIS IS LONDON: Life and Death in the World City Ben Judah. London: Picador, 2016. 423 pages, ISBN 9781447272441 (hardback); 9781447274797 (paperback)

THE ROAD TO SOMEWHERE: The New Tribes Shaping British Politics David Goodhart. London: Penguin Books, 2017. 278 pages, ISBN 9780141986975 (paperback); 9780141986982 (e-book)

THE GOOD IMMIGRANT Edited by Nikesh Shukla. London: Unbound, 2017. 254 pages, ISBN 9781783522958 (hardback); 9781783522965 (e-book)

THE SOVIET PASSPORT: Its History—Structure—Practices Albert Baiburin. St. Petersburg: Publishing House of the European University in St. Petersburg, 2017. 488 pages, ISBN 978-94380-232-4 (In Russian: Советский паспорт. История- структура- практики. СпБ: Издательство Европейского университета. Альберт Байбурин, 2017. 488. / Sovetskiy pasport. Istoriya- strukturapraktiki. SpB: Izdatel’stvo Yevropeyskogo universiteta, Albert Baiburin, 2017. 488)