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Immigrant and Refugee Women

Recreating Meaning in Transnational Context

Denise L. Spitzer

Migrating to another country is potentially fraught with both challenges and potential opportunities. This article examines ways in which mature Chilean, Chinese and Somali women who migrated to Canada deploy personal and communal resources to imbue shifting relations and novel spaces with new meanings. Through these activities, they create a place for themselves on Canadian soil while remaining linked to their homelands. I argue that the ability of immigrant and refugee women to reconstruct their lives—often under conditions of systemic inequalities—is evidence of their resilience, which consequently has a positive effect on health and well-being.

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The Persistent Issue of Refugees

Organized Hypocrisy, Solidarity, and Mounting Protest

Tiziana Caponio and Teresa Cappiali

In 2016, migration issues in Italy became synonymous with the “refugee crisis.” Dramatic images of boat people, rescues, and the deaths of thousands of people in the Mediterranean Sea have catalyzed public attention. Examining the Italian government’s responses, we argue that the “refugee crisis” is the result of an “organized hypocrisy” aimed at containing, rather than managing, the crisis and at gaining access to international protection. Structuring the immigrant reception system on the opposition between humanitarian and economic migrants, Italian policies struggle to offer adequate responses to current mixed flows. Furthermore, this system often has a negative impact on local communities, where we find diversified responses that range from solidarity to opposition and, more recently, the emergence of a “reception market.” Additionally, our analysis suggests that the dysfunctional nature of the Italian reception system, combined with alarmist attitudes promulgated by the media, amplifies discomfort and contributes to an increase in public hostility toward immigrants.

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Cultural Research and Refugee Studies

New Knowledge, Methodologies, and Practical Implications—A Panel Commentary

Khalid Koser, Pnina Werbner and Ien Ang

Khalid Koser: I will focus particularly on the notion of future research directions … from a refugee studies perspective. I think what today’s workshop has confirmed to me, yet again, is the strength of anthropology in this whole area of refugee studies. There is no doubt that anthropology is one of the leading disciplines in the study of refugees … Anthropology and law have got refugee studies wrapped up, while other disciplines have not really made enough of a contribution to this area.

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Joachim Häberlen

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Nonrecording the “European refugee crisis” in Greece

Navigating through irregular bureaucracy

Katerina Rozakou

This article explores nonrecording on the borders of Europe during the “European refugee crisis” in 2015. It examines the ambiguous practices of border control and the diverse actors involved. Taking the island of Lesvos as its starting point, the article interrogates how state functionaries manage an “irregular” bureaucracy. Irregular bureaucracy is approached as an essential element of state-craft , rather than an indication of state failure. Nonrecording is thus a crucial site of contestation between the state, nonstate agents, and the government, as well as between Greece and “Europe.” Nevertheless, despite the prevalence of irregularity, the imagery associated with ideal bureaucracy—a system of absolute knowledge, control, and governance of populations—is powerful; and yet, the actors are fully aware that it is a fantasy.

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Atta ur Rehman Sheikh

Afghan society represents a wide spectrum of tribal and ethnic groups with generally strong patriarchal norms. Given this patriarchal structure, coupled with the predominant tribal value system, the honour of a tribe is closely attributed to its women, and the protection of women by secluding them is thus a continued practice and norm. The division of public and private spheres is strictly adhered to as a means to maintain and preserve the honour of the family or tribe. The forced migration of Afghans has resulted in drastic changes in Afghan women’s lives and produced tensions in the tribal and social structure. Due to the absence of customary social support networks, material difficulties and cases of shattered families have become worse, and women’s mobility and freedom have been even further curtailed. At the same time, the refugee situation, extending over two decades, has brought about several changes in terms of attitudes towards health, hygiene, literacy, education, skill training and customs, due to the developmental work of various relief agencies.

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Cornelia Wilhelm

The German Rabbinate became a special role model for modern Judaism since the early nineteenth century and developed a unique capacity to negotiate and mediate group identity between group and society. Nazism destroyed German-Jewish life in central Europe, however the German Rabbinate continued to exist in refugee communities abroad, where it preserved its legacy. For the rabbinate and scholars of Judaism the United States was the most desired destination. The article will explore the conditions of the emigration process, resettlement of German refugee rabbis in the United States and explore how and where they found a place in American Judaism. It will also try to evaluate the impact this emigration has had on American Judaism and on American society.

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Kingsley Garbett

On 4 July 2003, a one-day “Cultural Research and Refugee Studies” workshop was held in Sydney. Greg Gow and Amanda Wise organized the workshop, a cooperative venture between the cultural research centers of the University of Western Sydney and the Australian National University. It brought together a large group of researchers, practitioners, and community representatives to exchange ideas about cultural research among refugees and asylum seekers in Australia. The three articles that follow, by Gow, Wise, and Glazebrook, present a particular perspective on the methodology of studying and analyzing refugee behavior in Cultural Studies, stressing the significance of considering the emotive and affective aspects of their status and position. Wise’s material considers East Timorese refugees, many of whom now have residence in Australia, while Gow and Glazebrook examine more recent refugees and asylum seekers from Iraq and Central Afghanistan, respectively, many of whom still have uncertain futures. Comments from a panel discussion by Khalid Koser, Pnina Werbner, and Ien Ang complete this thematic section.

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Susan Cohen

This article provides an overview of Eleanor Rathbone’s commitment to the rescue and welfare of refugees, especially Jews, in and from Nazi-occupied Europe before and during the Second World War. The focus is on how she sought to champion their cause, while balancing her humanitarianism with the political imperatives of the day. Reference is made to her two groups, the Parliamentary Committee on Refugees and the National Committee for Rescue from Nazi Terror, both of which were used to bring pressure to bear on the government regarding their response to the refugees. Mention will also be made of some of her refugee publications, which variously proposed rescue schemes and sought to dispel the prevailing negative myths about Jews.

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Jennifer Craig-Norton

The Kindertransport has long been interpreted as a heroic response to the refugee crisis of the 1930s and has recently re-entered the British national conversation as a model to be applied to the current Middle East refugee crisis. Kinder case files are utilized to argue that an unambiguously celebratory narrative is a misreading of the Kindertransport, especially when considering the plight of parents who had to make agonizing choices to send their children away. The majority of Kinder were never reunited with their families after the war, and even those who were suffered various traumas related to their long estrangement. An examination of the fate of parents and siblings who were not welcomed to Britain suggests that it is a mistake to call for the reimplementation of the Kindertransport on any scale to respond to the wave of religious and political refugees currently crossing into Europe in large numbers.