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Avoiding Poison

Congolese Refugees Seeking Cosmological Continuity in Urban Asylum

Georgina Ramsay

Avoiding poison refers here to practices of securitization that enable refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to exert agency in urban asylum in Uganda. I consider that the stakes of poisoning are not exclusively understood in terms of physiological survival, but are existential, relating to the ways that Congolese refugees imbue purpose in their lives through acts that restore cosmological continuity. Focusing on the cosmological logics through which refugees experience urban asylum, I argue that practices of avoiding poison can be seen as acts of securitization whereby refugees exert agency in precarious contexts of urban asylum.

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Living an Uncertain Future

Temporality, Uncertainty, and Well-Being among Iraqi Refugees in Egypt

Nadia El-Shaarawi

While displacement has always involved the refiguring of space, scholars of forced migration have recently begun to consider how temporality might be crucial to an understanding of displacement. In this article, I consider the interplay of temporal and spatial uncertainty in the experience of exile for Iraqi refugees in metropolitan Cairo. By examining how Iraqis understand displacement as uncertain and how this uncertainty is a cause of significant distress, I show that an attunement to temporality can help us to understand refugees' experiences of displacement. Iraqi refugees spoke of exile in Cairo as 'living in transit'—a condition in which disjuncture between their expectations about exile and its realities contributed to an altered experience of time in which the future became particularly uncertain and life was experienced as unstable. One solution sought by refugees is resettlement, a process that often renders the future even more uncertain, at least in the short term.

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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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“I Don't Want to Claim America”

African Refugee Girls and Discourses of Othering

Laura Boutwell

In this article I draw from the Imani Nailah Project, a participatory action research initiative with a group of African refugee girls living in the US. I examine a particular fusion of racialized, gendered, and nationalized narratives that discursively construct the refugee girl. I interrogate this discursively produced refugee girl construct and highlight how actual refugee girls interact with this discourse with a focus on resistance strategies and emergent counter narratives of citizenship. Throughout the article, I use italics when I am referring to the refugee girl construct in order to maintain a central focus on interrogating a sociopolitical discourse—the refugee girl—as a construct distinct from actual refugee girls. My central aim is to highlight spaces and moments when actual refugee girls are in conversation with this imposed refugee girl discourse.

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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.

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Tareq Al-Sham (The Road to Damascus)

Syrian Refugees, Lebanese Society, and Unsettled Problems

Emily Regan Wills

This article departs from standard academic style to address the implications of the Syrian refugee crisis for Lebanon’s civil society, particularly with regard for solidarity across difference and the always-troubled Syria/Lebanon relationship. I adopt this style because the consequences and unfolding changes to Lebanese civil society and political practice driven by the Syrian crisis are still in progress, have uncertain outcomes, and are in a state of constant flux. The same must be said of my own knowledge and understanding of this situation, as I continue to engage in fieldwork and dialogue with actors on the ground. This article is the product of my particular place as an ethnographer at the beginning of what is likely to be years of study, as an outsider entering into a new country and city, as a policy actor with a higher education initiative for Syrian refugees and host community members in Beirut, and as an American-Canadian binational uninterested in sharpening distinctions between ‘there’ and ‘here’, neither in my own understanding nor in my scholarship. Because of the unsettled nature of the analysis in this piece, I have chosen not to arrange it as an argument supporting a single thesis. Instead, I have interwoven sections from my fieldnotes, particularly those from my trip to Beirut in May 2015, with sections that lay out, in a less personal format, the context, and elements that collectively helped shape the situation as it stands. My goal is to both document the dynamics of anxiety and rejection that surround the refugee crisis in Lebanon—where refugees are demonized in the press, targeted through bylaws aimed at ‘foreigners,’ and by denying access to basic services. My aim is to understand how the intertwined elements of Lebanese and Syrian history and politics have are creating this moment. At a time when societies around the world are gripped with fear and panic, how can the microcosm of the crisis in Lebanon give us insight into the development of xenophobic anxieties in our own societies? How does Lebanon’s proximity to the Syrian crisis make its experience reflective of global responses to uncivil times?

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Elisabeth Yarbakhsh

Derrida’s hostipitalité formulation provides a framework through which we might begin to explore the relationship between Iranian citizen-hosts and Afghan refugee-guests in the city of Shiraz and the surrounding province. Notions of Iranian hospitality thread through multiple and diverse constructions of Iranian selfhood. Religion, poetry and history speak to what it means to be Iranian, marking out categories of Self and Other and, in doing so, exposing the limits of hospitality in the very spaces that the nation is most acutely felt.

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Teaching globalisation in the social sciences

the effectiveness of a refugee simulation

Stacy Keogh George

This article describes the incorporation of a refugee simulation into an upper-division sociology course on globalisation at a liberal arts institution in the United States. The simulation is designed to inform students of the refugee process in the United States by inviting participants to immerse themselves in refugee experiences by adopting identities of actual refugee families as they complete four stages of the refugee application process. Student reactions to the refugee simulation suggest that it is an effective tool for demonstrating the complexities of the refugee experience in the United States and for evoking social empathy.

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Moving Onward?

Secondary Movers on the Fringes of Refugee Mobility in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya

Jolien Tegenbos and Karen Büscher

This article examines the migration-asylum nexus in the microcosm of Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya by focusing on refugees and asylum seekers who move onward from a first refuge, in Central-East Africa. By drawing on qualitative ethnographic field research in Kakuma, the article outlines how such “secondary movements” cause many anxieties, as the distinction between refugees and migrants is blurred by motivations that are not exclusively protection related. Based on a Foucauldian analysis of power and discourse, we argue that this creates a contested social and semantic space wherein all actors struggle to uphold the rigid distinction. Additionally, by combining the strengths of migration studies’ consideration for policy categories and mobility studies’ holistic perspective toward migration, the article aims to further deepen academic interaction between two literature traditions in order to enhance our understanding of how mobility is “shaped” and “lived” by people in wartime situations.

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Politicizing the Transnational

On Implications for Migrants, Refugees, and Scholarship

Riina Isotalo

This article discusses the politicization of the transnational paradigm in terms of development and security, refugee and migrant regimes, and transnational practices. The analysis makes two principal arguments. The first is that diasporas and mobility in general have been both securitized and developmentalized. These two processes are intertwined but also contradictory. While migration is seen as a development resource, 'uncontrolled' population flows—particularly of refugees—are looked upon as security threats by states and policy makers. This duo-faceted approach is at the root of the politicization of the transnational paradigm. The second argument of this text is that this politicization and the neo-liberal mega-trend are also entwined, despite the fact that the scholars who introduced transnationalism to migration research saw it as reflecting a process of globalization 'from below'.