BECOMING MIDDLE CLASS: Young People's Migration between Urban Centers in Ethiopia Markus Roos Breines. 2022. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan. 213 pages. ISBN: 978-981-16-3536-6 (hardback); ISBN: 978-981-16-3539-7 (paperback).
Becoming Middle Class: Young People's Migration between Urban Centers in Ethiopia is a book based on several years of ethnographic field research by author Markus Roos Breines. It is a well-written ethnography of urban-to-urban migration and its role in middle-class formation in Ethiopia. The book has seven chapters: Introduction; Pursuing Progress; Higher Education and Economic Mobility; Being Educated; Managing Enhanced Capital; Ethnic Hierarchies; and A Middle Class Rooted in Urban-to-Urban Migration. It includes attention to themes of ethnicity, higher education, and notions of progress, which should appeal to a wide readership, including academics and policymakers.
Through his extended ethnographic fieldwork, the author thoroughly examines the intersections and tensions between physical movement and social mobility. Based on fieldwork in Adigrat and Addis Ababa, the book tells the stories of young Tigrayans’ migration between urban centers, making their experiences distinct from both international migrants and non-migrants. It describes these young people's notions of progress, ex- periences of higher education, and ethnic ten- sions to demonstrate how their movements enabled them to enhance their economic, social, and symbolic capital. In doing so, the book shows the opportunities for and constraints on upward social mobility, and argues that the emergence of shared characteristics among urban-to-urban migrants led to the formation of a group presented as middle class in Ethiopia.
Chapter 6, “Ethnic Hierarchies,” is central to the argument of the book. Ethnicity, ethnic dispute, and ethnic hierarchies inform the past and the present of not just the polity of the Ethiopian state but also the consequential economic and social benefits that trickle down to the people. The author acknowledges the central role ethnicity plays in wealth distribution and social relations in Ethiopia, more so than class (195–202). As such, ethnicity can be taken to be an important analytical lens through which the issue of social mobility and the emerging middle class in Ethiopia can be discussed and understood. Similarly, scholars who have published on Ethiopia place ethnicity at the center of analysis (e.g., Tronvoll 2009).
Patrimonialism is consequential not only to the distribution of resources but also to the post-2018 conflict in Tigray. Between 1991 and 2018, the Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) dominated Ethiopian politics. There is a widely shared perception that Tigrayans disproportionately enjoyed access to education, housing, development infrastructure, and financial services. As the author notes, unlike in other African countries where elites seek to control the state and “eat” its resources (Bayart, 1993), in the case of Ethiopia “people from other ethnic groups considered not only Tigrayan elites but the whole ethnic group to be consuming the wealth of the country” (169). The current bitter and bloody conflict in Tigray can partly be understood through these perceptions. As the author notes in the postscript section of the book: “There was a sense that Ethiopians supported the assaults on Tigrayans” (200).
The discussion in Chapter 6 naturally feeds into the next chapter, “A Middle Class Rooted in Urban-to-Urban Migration.” Chapter 7 dis- cusses how the emergence of urban-to-urban migrants led to the formation of a middle class in Ethiopia. This formation was based on the interlocutors’ enhancement of their economic, social, and symbolic capital. The op- portunities and constraints that these migrants faced in pursuing progress meant that they came to share social positions based on their unique combination of forms of capital. In- stead of clear-cut individual upward social mobility, it was the changes in people who en- gaged in urban-to-urban migration that made them distinct from returning international migrants and non-migrants. These emerging commonalities led to the formation of a middle class in Ethiopia.
The author bases his analysis of social mo- bility on the measurement of his interlocutors’ enhancement of their economic, social, and symbolic capital, but misses the critical role of how patrimonial resource distribution provided his interlocutors with unique opportunities in urban-to-urban migration. In the postscript section of the book, which presents the context since the removal from power of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), the author questions the prospect of opportunities for urban-to-urban migration for Tigrayans. He notes the attitudes of his interlocutors: “None of the people of Tigray with whom I have spoken in recent months considered migrating to other parts of Ethiopia” (200).
With its empirically grounded work, this book adds to our understanding of the nu- anced complexities of being middle class in Africa, and of the importance of ethnicity in comprehending migration as a differential experience. It makes an important contribution to the contemporary debate on the African middle classes, and in so doing will be particularly appealing to readers and scholars in anthropology of development, development sociology, and development studies.
Gemechu Adimassu Abeshu
Center for Refugee Studies, York University
Tronvoll, Kjetil. 2009. War and the Politics of Identity in Ethiopia: Making Enemies and Allies in the Horn of Africa. Rochester, NY: James Currey.
HYBRID POLITICAL ORDER AND THE POLITICS OF UNCERTAINTY: Refugee Governance in Lebanon Nora Stel. 2020. London: Routledge. 264 pages. ISBN 9781138352544 (hardback); ISBN 9780367518615 (paperback).
To open the book, Stel discusses and breaks down the nature of the Lebanese state and its hybrid political order. Stel develops the notion of institutional ambiguity, “which revolves around the key aspects of informality, liminality, and exceptionalism” (2) when exploring refugee governance in Lebanon. The book goes beyond exploring the lived experiences of liminality but argues that institutional ambiguity is a strategy of governance, particularly in an arena of hybrid forms of political order. Stel argues that informality is produced by the state itself (9) for the purposes of maintaining a status quo of power dynamics and sovereignty, while also allowing for the “control, exploitation, and expulsion of refugee populations” (14) that serve the socio-political economies of the country.
An important point that Stel reminds the reader of is how refugee governance and management in Lebanon is reinforced by Western political actors that outsource refugee crises to the Global South and inherently reinforce liminality for refugees through the encouragement of regional politics of uncertainty (19). This argument reminds readers that host countries with a significant occurrence of institutional ambiguity surrounding refugee governance are not solely to blame for their “messy” approach to the management of such migration crises (19). Furthermore, when host states are characterized as weak or fragile, we must remember that this is underpinned by “an abstract European ideal-type” (31).
When exploring the Syrian refugee crisis specifically, Stel highlights the difficulties faced by humanitarian workers who are constricted by sectarian politics, and that in the field, the governance of refugees is elusive and enigmatic. The lack of direction allows for ex- ploitation, and local interpretations have been extremely varied, with various municipalities placing different measures of restrictions on the movement and livelihoods of refugees living in their area. Stel argues that “the national decision-making paralysis regarding the governance of Syrian refugees is thus replicated locally” (91), cementing institutional ambiguity. This could have been further explored with reference to the long-standing and complex relationship with Syria as another explanation as to why the Lebanese state is keen to not engage in policy developments, commit to direct action, or even acknowledge and respond to the crisis.
A key issue with Lebanon's approach to the Syrian refugee crisis was that it was a short-term issue that required immediate, short-term solutions. However, Stel extensively discusses the approach to Syrians in parallel to the Palestinian refugee presence in Lebanon and the history surrounding their long-term precarity. Stel highlights that the initial approach to Syrian refugees closely resembles the post-Civil War approach to governing the Palestinian refugees through systematically marginalizing and demobilizing the refugee population (119) to ensure that their political influence cannot upset the consociationalism formation of Lebanon. Through the utilization of institutional ambiguity, a responsibility shift surrounding refugees took place, and the UN were, and still are, tasked with covertly managing the crises despite a lack of any accommodating framework (128), directly resulting from inaction by Lebanese governments (129). This inherently reinforces institutional ambiguity as a strategy of inaction that only further creates liminality (145) for both refugee populations and non-state actors. Stel directs attention to fieldwork observations of a Lebanese lawyer who avoids refugee cases altogether due to their complexity and ambiguity (197), arguing that this intentional deadlock leads to inaction from organizations and creates more fragmentation within the refugee management system.
Stel provides an excellent contribution to the field of ignorance studies using the case study of Lebanon to demonstrate not only how ignorance is strategically operationalized but also how this impacts stakeholders and their ability to support refugees in Lebanon. Stel argues that the Lebanese government frequently engages in ignoring or acting oblivious to refugee crises as a method of strategically and intentionally shirking responsibility and creating ambiguity (190–192). This means that, in daily life, the ignorance feigned by the Lebanese government inherently forces refugees to navigate a system that is underpinned by informality, liminality, and exceptionalism, further entrenching the governmentality that leads to their victimization (195).
Overall, Stel offers an in-depth account of the internal power dynamics of Lebanon and how the state's failure to communicate a formal structure for refugees leads to discrepancies in treatment on the local level (100–104). This book makes an excellent contribution to the field of migration and refugee studies in that it encapsulates the precarity of the Lebanese government's attitudes toward both Palestinian and Syrian refugees, and provides detailed analysis on the refugee management system (or lack thereof) in Lebanon. Refugee experiences are critically analyzed via the stance of “no policy does not mean no governance” (133), with Stel arguing that a lack of national consensus, as a result of Lebanon's refugee trauma (200), is a strategic method to keeping refugees in liminal states of precarity (217). Finally, Stel reminds readers that challenging ignorance and “asking the questions that policymakers do not want to be asked are often the most relevant to understanding dominant governmentalities” (231).
School of Social, Political, and Global Studies, Keele University
DEVELOPMENT, (DUAL) CITIZENSHIP AND ITS DISCONTENTS IN AFRICA: The Political Economy of Belonging to Liberia Robtel Neajai Pailey. 2021. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 276 pages. ISBN 9781108836548 (hardback); ISBN 9781108873871 (online).
Development, (Dual) Citizenship and Its Discontents in Africa is a commendable and comprehensive overview of the contestations over (dual) citizenship in Liberia. Pailey argues that Liberian citizenship is (and has always been) a space of “contestation and convergence,” from the exclusion of indigenous populations in the nineteenth century to the issue of dual citizenship in the twenty-first (14). Liberia was the first African state to declare independence and develop criteria for citizenship. Based on the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia and the 1973 Aliens and Nationality Law, citizenship is restricted to people of “Negro descent,” and dual citizenship is permitted until adulthood, at which time one must renounce all other affiliations (5).
Pailey contends that the historical and con- temporary processes of conflict, migration, and post-war recovery have shaped the public discourse on citizenship, and more recently dual citizenship, which in turn has increased the tensions between the “homelanders” (those in Liberia) and the “diasporas” (those outside Liberia) (23). Both claim that citizenship is about “meaningful participation” in the economic, political, and social life of the state (64). The homelanders equate this participation with paying property taxes and voting in national elections; the diasporas relate this participation to investing in real estate and sending remittances to family members. Critically, however, the homelanders consider dual citizenship to be extractive, capable of increasing inequality in Liberia by “[privileging] an already privileged social class” (100). Meanwhile, the diasporas assert that citizenship is about “having heart,” and should not be denied to those who were forced out of the state by war and who naturalized abroad due to circumstances beyond their control (100–101). This public discourse on (dual) citizenship impacts the economic, political, and social development of the state. It influences the path of structural transformation in policy and in practice, as evident with the reconstruction agenda under President Ellen Sirleaf and the response to the Ebola epidemic.
A critical contribution of the book is the creation of an alternative approach to conceptualizing citizenship, one in which citizenship is understood as a triad: identity (passive), practice (active), and a set of relations (interactive). This triad encompasses “the legal, political, and sociological constructions of citizenship” (229). Such an approach challenges the traditional conceptualization of citizenship in that it consists of multiple levels. Citizenship is not solely the legal status of belonging to a country; it is the political economy of belonging. Citizenship is the way in which an individual interacts with his or her state and society. Pailey asserts that the political economy of belonging is a transactional system in which socio-economic transformation relies on privileges and protections (rights) in exchange for participation (responsibilities), and vice versa.
Pailey provides extensive evidence for each of the axes in the triad with more than two hundred interviews conducted in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, the United Kingdom, and the United States. She asked all of the interviewees to consider their identity, and how their identity influences their conceptualization of citizenship, particularly Liberian citizenship (53). Their definitions differ based on their lived experiences and socio-economic positions at home and abroad. With this rich data set, Pailey demonstrates that the legal framework of citizenship is but one element in the political economy of belonging in Liberia. It is a continuum that is contested across space and time, moving from identity-based citizenship to practice-based citizenship.
While the book is successful in presenting a viable alternative approach to the conceptualization of citizenship, there are a number of points that the book notes, but chooses not to engage with in any depth. Notable elephants in the room include the so-called “Negro clause” in the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, and the fate of the 2008 Proposed Act to Establish Dual Citizenship for Liberians by Birth and Background—a bill that formed the backdrop to the interviews in 2012 and 2013. The “Negro clause,” in particular, is significant because the provision denies access to citizenship, as well as land rights, to those who are not of Negro descent, such as the Chinese and Lebanese communities. The de- cision to not embed these policies in the analysis feels incongruous at times. That said, in the conclusion, Pailey points out that these specific pieces of legislation will be included in her next project, which will examine the extent to which colonialism and neoliberalism shaped the narrative around citizenship and belonging in Africa.
Overall, Development, (Dual) Citizenship and Its Discontents in Africa is an admirable contribution to studies on citizenship and development in Liberia and, more broadly, throughout the continent of Africa. The book provides an engaging and enriching understanding of citizenship, from historical and contemporary perspectives alike. Moreover, the book raises important questions on the role of citizenship, specifically in a post-war transition period, and challenges its readers to think and rethink about the traditional conceptualization of citizenship.
University of Edinburgh
MATERIAL CULTURE AND (FORCED) MIGRATION: Materializing the Transient Friedemann Yi-Neumann, Andrea Lauser, Antonie Fuhse, and Peter J. Bräunlein, eds. 2022. London: UCL Press. 367 pages. ISBN 9781800081628 (hardback); ISBN 9781800081611 (paperback).
This is a truly interdisciplinary book with positionalities stemming from anthropology, sociology, museum studies, and archaeology. Contributors Sarah Mallet and Louise Fowler describe their archaeological practice as “un- apologetically a form of activism.” Alongside these disciplines, the contributors span career trajectories and sectors. This book captures everyday political and COVID-19 realities, as it depicts migration dynamics across Europe and Latin America and provides fresh insights into the turbulent landscape that has shaped the contributors’ research and what things are necessary in the everyday life of migrants today. The contributors encourage us to think in new relations between people and things—how everyday things, bags, bracelets, and buggies enable migration journeys as they provide the necessary knowledge, pauses, and connections, and facilitate the performance needed for passage-making, to make do and create a sense of self in one's host context.
Throughout this book, the contributors—through a variety of examples—encourage us to consider when and to what extent materials matter in migration. Overseas cultural consumption is juxtaposed, with toothpaste in displacement clearly portraying the significance of the ways in which materials both are, and are not, entangled in people's lives. Moreover, this book recognizes that the biographical in a material object's life story can shift and perhaps loose meaning. Maruška Svašek, in Chapter Ten, demonstrates that materials such as phones can even prohibit a migrant's connection into their new society, as it can force their attention away from new connections. Ayşe Şanlı, in Chapter Six, evidences the ways in which objects have multiple lives when researching migration: Chapter Seven, by Özlem Savaş illustrates this by demonstrating the ways in which the Raki table facilitating genuine conversation addresses difficult questions and shapes political futures. This is in contrast to Andrea Verdasco, who in Chapter Eight demonstrates the power that materials can yield in a space of containment, exchanging conformity for food, transforming roles from guest into host, and enabling people subject to the asylum system to create (in)valuable social relations.
This book leaves the reader with an understanding of the similarities and differences of experiences in the scope of migrants and migration trajectories today, reminding us “migration is not all loss and violence” (34). These multiple forms of migration explored in this book—labor migration in parallel with displacement from war, political unrest, and retirement—illustrate the shared while strikingly different journeys of seeking and making home through migration and materials. This insight is a crucial contribution to mitigate the perceived otherness and lack of agency within the force of experiences in forced displacement. Moreover, the focus of the contributors in this book's approach to foregrounding the affect that materials can have as active agents, changing function and form, in shaping economic and political landscapes for migrants, is a valuable contribution. Chapter Twelve, by a Nada Ghandour-Demiri and Petros Passas, demonstrates the unequal the access to materials in Greek camps, and the contributors advocate for practitioners to work with camp residents to incorporate their structural and material preferences as a way to facilitate a sense of normality and dignity in a non-normal situation. In contrast, Rachel Barber in Chapter Thirteen explores the cultural consumption of materials, proposing that materials can have the power to perhaps remove human agency, created through the act of migrants seeking cultural consumption through economic transaction as people seek an authentic connection with artists.
This contribution to migration studies evidences the histories and harms of collecting things, to account for difference, while removing agency from those they claim to represent. In Chapter Five, Mallet and Fowler remind us that emotive representations of helplessness may not lead to positive action, and concludes with actionable solutions about what we should and could be doing in our practice of researching material cultures of forced migration, how to move beyond the cliché of suitcases.
The book stands out in four ways: first, it transitions from the conceptual while retaining accessibility; second, it raises the possibility of the practice of applying things in migration research; third, the contributors engage with the relatedness of moving emotions and materials through space and time; and finally, it shows the agency that materials have in the home-making process. These sections transition from reading as introductory texts to more advanced contributions throughout each of the four sections on temporality, methods, emotions, and relatedness. The fourteen chapters in the book engage with a vast array of data sources, and take the reader through a step-by-step recipe-style formula—engaging with ethics, challenges, and possibilities that come with material research. It is refreshing to see that some data was generated outside of Europe and North America, specifically the Democratic Republic of Congo, as research with people subject to the asylum system so often centers around these spaces.
The editors are kind to the reader in their writing and in the book's layout. The book is enriched with images, maps, and illustrations, as well as a detailed bibliography and notes which expand argument and thought. I enjoyed the accessibility, yet it retained the significance of capturing the nuance of politicized terminology, through providing it with the space needed to unpack the legal and ethical weight behind the terms used in this work, for example, “refugee” and “migrant.” I commend the contributors, as they questioned whether it is helpful to perpetuate the distinction due to the harms it may cause. Terms were outlined by the contributors, ex- plaining what they use for whom, when, and why. Material Culture and (Forced) Migration: Materializing the Transient presents an engaging read on the ways in which materials store memories and experiences and provide security and connections to loved ones throughout a person's migration trajectory.
University of Glasgow
POSTCOLONIALITY AND FORCED MIGRATION: Mobility, Control, Agency Martin Lemberg-Pedersen, Sharla M. Fett, Lucy Mayblin, Nina Sahraoui, and Eva Magdalena Stambøl, eds. 2022. Bristol, UK: Bristol University Press. 246 pages. ISBN 978-1529218190 (hardback).
Postcoloniality and Forced Migration, edited by Martin Lemberg-Pedersen and colleagues, contributes to a growing body of critical literature that either explicitly or implicitly makes the case for open borders. It argues that contemporary migration control is a coercive colonial legacy, and that the mainstream discussion of borders reinforces presentist, Eurocentric, if not racist, state-centric myths of origin and fails to acknowledge historical events, such as the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism, the consequences of which limit the lawful mobility of the majority of citizens in the Global South.
The volume builds on a workshop held in Copenhagen in December 2019, at which historians, political scientists, sociologists, anthropologists, criminologists, and political theorists were bought together to explore the phenomenon of forced migration from critical perspectives. The editors aim to contribute to a growing body of scholarly work which seeks to explore “the legacies of colonialism for contemporary refugee phenomena by challenging the coloniality, presentism and Eurocentrism of both the international refugee regime and the field of refugee and forced migration studies itself” (2).
The book is divided into thirteen chapters, placed between a thorough literature review provided in the Introduction and a comprehensive summary presented in the Conclusion. Authors of the chapters representing different disciplines explore thematically and geographically diverse topics ranging from colonial continuities and commodification of mobility policing (Chapter 5, by E. M. Stambøl and L. Jegen) through the geopolitics of energy and migration control in Libya (Chapter 8, by Mathias H. Tjønn and M. Lemberg-Pedersen) to the mobility strategies of forced migrants in a Kenyan settlement (Chapter 13, by F. A. Okoth). Seven themes ensure the coherence of the book across the chapters: the power of race and racial hierarchy in official responses to forced migration; the idea that postcolonial states manage mobile populations in their own interests; states seeking to spatially organize populations along modern/colonial lines; the role of non-state and private actors; technologies used for categorization, control, and surveillance; and the politics of hospitality and surveillance.
The collection would not be complete without reflecting on the positionality of the researcher in particular, or the (complicity of the) academic community in general. Hiding between two ordinary chapters, Philip Cole's reflection may have deserved a better highlighted place(ment) considering his attempt to problematize the power of the political theorist (or any social scientist from the Global North) by echoing Spivak's old question on the subaltern and its voices: how can someone with no experience of oppression and who occupies a privileged and powerful position due to the system that causes and perpetuates oppression legitimately speak about it (183)? With or without citing the voices of refugees, it is by no means an easy task.
To sum up, the authors devoted significant attention to the role played by slave trade and colonialism in population movements and responses to them over the past five centuries and the relationship between these historical phenomena, forced migration, and contemporary securitization of border controls. Less attention, however, has been given to motivations for securitizing mobility. In exploring the relationship between the Henley Passport Index and other rankings, including the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), the Global Peace Index (GPI), and the World Happiness Report (WHR), Hilary Okagbue and colleagues (2021) found that countries with high passport privileges also have low corruption instances (CPI), experience few, if any, conflicts (GPI), and are perceived to be happy (WHR). These findings suggest that migration control is not simply about border control, but also about protecting convenience and privileges embodied in certain passports and citizenship.
The main message of Postcoloniality and Forced Migration resonates well with Ariella Aisa Azoulay's scholarly mission, the essence of which is unlearning imperialism: Unlearning our rights protected by imperial passports, international human rights instruments, his- torical archives, technologies regulating mi- gration and border control on the one hand, and resisting the idea that the present is separable from the past on the other hand are preconditions for claiming the right not to be a perpetrator in the future (Azoulay 2019).
Postcoloniality and Forced Migration is recommended for anyone interested in how Northern, Western, European, imperial privileges are protected by states, non-state actors, and private tech companies. The authors join other critical scholars who argue that contemporary migration control is not simply un- justly coercive (cf. Hidalgo 2018), and who also draw attention to the totalizing and silencing potential of (securitized) technologies (Chouliaraki and Georgiou 2022).
Institute of Global Studies, Corvinus University of Budapest
Okagbue, Hilary I., Pelumi E. Oguntunde, Sheila A. Bishop et al. 2021. “Significant Predictors of Henley Passport Index.” International Migration & Integration 22: 21–32. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12134-019-00726-4.
THE PRECARIOUS LIVES OF SYRIANS: Migration, Citizenship, and Temporary Protection in Turkey Feyzi Baban, Suzan Ilcan, Kim Rygiel. 2021. Montreal: McGill–Queen's University Press. 296 pages. ISBN 9780228008033 (hardback); ISBN 9780228008040 (paperback)
In 2022, the number of displaced people ex- ceeded 100 million for the first time on record. Turkey is one of the countries most affected by the global refugee crisis and continues to be the largest refugee-hosting country since the end of 2014. Since the onset of political turmoil in Syria, the number forced in- migration from Syria to Turkey has reached nearly four million.
The Precarious Lives of Syrians: Migration, Citizenship and Temporary Protection in Turkey, authored by Feyzi Baban, Suzan Ilcan and Kim Rygiel, is a timely book that surveys issues related to Syrian migration in Turkey. The book is structured around six core chapters with an introduction and a conclusion. The book is the product of a study based on fieldwork where the authors deftly conducted several in-depth interviews in Turkey and elsewhere.
While mobility and forced migration have been accelerating every day, international communities have failed to develop a proper mechanism to provide protection for the people who seek asylum. Partly due to the increasing number of forced migrants, states have been tempted to pursue exclusionist policies toward asylum seekers. Raising walls, the pushback of desperate people into the sea, deportation, and other excluding reactions have become common occurrences in migrant-receiving countries.
The authors describe the insecure and am- biguous situation of Syrians in Turkey while focusing on the concept of precarity throughout the book. Each chapter emphasizes the various dimensions of precarity. The writers draw a conceptual framework for precarity mainly defined into three categories: status, space and movement.
The first chapter is devoted to answering the question of how the international protection system emerged and developed after the second world war. Despite concrete institutionalization, like the establishment of the UNHCR, “the architecture of precarity” (44) has also evolved throughout the years.
The second chapter focuses on the international communities and especially the EU's reactions to the Syrian refugees. The failure of the EU to accept Syrians in Europe after the “great flow” in 2015 led the EU to negotiate with the stakeholders, particularly transit countries like Turkey, to keep the Syrian refugee crisis outside the European borders. The “EU-Turkey statement” (75) on 18 March 2016 passed into history as an example of the externalization of a refugee crisis due to efforts by the EU to manage refugee issues outside its borders. A decade of the arrival of Syrians in Turkey, they are now considered “neither guest nor refugee” (62). As a result of ambiguous politics towards Syrians and the non-functional resettlement program, Syrians are forced to seek “precarious crossing” (82) to Europe. However, it is hard to say that Greece, as the gatekeeper of Frontex, is welcoming any asylum seekers across their border.
As a conditional signatory to the Geneva convention, Turkey limits the right to apply for refugee status to those coming from Europe. The acquisition of Turkish citizenship for Syrians is not open to application but is decided by the government. The outcome of this uncertainty in status is discussed in the third chapter. Reflections on precarity in residency and access to social services, rights, and employment are the nexus of this chapter. The chapter also discusses the concept of “the promise of citizenship,” subjecting refugees to a limiting and uncertain process. The chapter touches upon how such vulnerability has left Syrians in precarious situations in society.
The fourth chapter points out how the Syrian refugees were rendered in a desperate situation. Although the Turkish government issued rights to access many services, insufficient implementation in practice has left Syrian refugees unable to benefit sufficiently from health services, enrolment in school, or employment.
Following this, the fifth chapter discusses how Syrians claim social spaces and belonging in Turkish society. While they try to keep their culture, bridges with local communities and people are also under construction. Various initiatives in art, education, social support, and health are becoming strategies to develop a new life in a precarious society. The chapter also depicts how Syrians develop strategies and solutions to cope with the uneven problems in their daily lives.
The last chapter is about the journey of different people moving to new destinations from Turkey. The stories of three cases come up in the sixth chapter, which offers insight into how people escape from one uncertainty to another. In this context, the frustration, trauma, danger, and maltreatment during the journey towards Europe are illustrated from different but interrelated perspectives.
It is unlikely that the Syrian war will end in the near future. Over half of the Syrian population has been residing in the three neighboring countries for over a decade. Accordingly, their precarious lives in these countries are unlikely to improve but will rather deepen if the responsibility to protect refugee rights is not being shared adequately among states and relevant stakeholders.
Ali Zafer Sağıroğlu
Ankara Yιldιrιm Beyazιt University
THE MIGRANT'S PARADOX: Street Livelihoods and Marginal Citizenship in Britain Suzanne M. Hall. 2021. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. 232 pages. ISBN 9781517910495 (hardback); ISBN 9781517910501 (paperback).
Suzanne M. Hall's The Migrant's Paradox: Street Livelihoods and Marginal Citizenship in Britain is a monograph that provides an in-depth spatial analysis of the everyday lives of migrant shop proprietors in five British cities. Hall “writes the street as world,” connecting the streets and shops of her research to national and global political economies of displacement. She relates shop keepers’ migration trajectories to histories of colonialism, racialization, and displacement and illuminates how these continue to shape protracted migration journeys until today. The book skillfully weaves together perspectives from the urban margins with wider discussion around borders, precarity, racialization, and migration.
The book builds on six years of ethnographic research carried out between 2012 and 2017 in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leicester, and Bristol. Hall and colleagues employed a mixed methodology including interviews, informal conversations, participant observations, face-to-face surveys with over five hundred shop proprietors, spatial mappings, and drawings. This expansive approach creates a rich and intricate view from the street of how processes of displacement and emplacement play out simultaneously in the urban margins.
Through her ethnographic accounts, the author illuminates that the migrant's paradox is not contained solely to migration journeys and border crossing, but extends to life within Britain where deindustrialization, economic crises, gentrification, and racialization create unstable grounds on which the self-employed shopkeepers navigate in their everyday lives. The paradox is situated at the intersection of three crises: the global financial crisis of 2008 and the ensuing austerity politics; the Brexit referendum; and the introduction of increasingly restrictive migration policies.
The book's five chapters each address different aspects of migrant entrepreneurship and marginalization in Britain. “The Scale of the Migrant” explicates the logics of numbers and quantitative measures that underpin British migration policy. The author juxtaposes these political discourses with the lived experiences of migrant shop proprietors, linking their own migration trajectories to British colonial histories and other processes of displacement. The “world-to-street” drawings by Julia King and Sadiq Toffa give insight into the different scales of migration by illustratively and conceptually connecting British streets to other places globally.
In “Edge Territories,” Hall draws on the work of geographer Doreen Massey to illuminate the asymmetrical connections that link the streets of different British cities to other places globally. Through ethnographic vignettes, photographs, and maps she traces the work trajectories of her interlocutors over time and space, effectively unfolding how migration demands continuous acquisition of new skills, while simultaneously facing deskilling by restrictive and racialized border regimes. She thereby links “racialized patterns of work to morphologies of marginalization” (8).
“What is work in the edge territories?” Hall asks in “Edge Economies.” Drawing on Ruth Wilson Gilmore's (2002) conceptualization of “landscapes of disaccumulation,” the author locates edge economies “in the expanding terrain of redundancies and casualized employment” (87). The self-employed shopkeepers must create new meanings of what work is in the urban margins. This en- tails building alternative infrastructures of care, which Hall conceptualizes as responsive collaboration, multilingual collaborations, and maneuvering “form filling economies.” Here, entrepreneurs act as brokers between migrants and the often-opaque state bureaucracy. Hall's findings, which speak to a body of research on migrant infrastructures, em- phasize the temporality and inventiveness of many of these economies.
“Unheroic Resistance” highlights how previously marginalized urban spaces are “being pulled into the center” (119) through urban renewal and gentrification processes. In this chapter, Hall centers shop proprietors’ agency and activism to resist and/or maneuver within this changing environment. In these spaces, different local actors form associations to counter their own marginalization. And while these associations may often be fragile, transient, and conflictual, they are nonetheless meaningful acts of resistance to dispossession and displacement. Hall links the “unheroic” resistance of a South London Street to other localities of urban resistance, such as Taksim Gezi Park. She excellently explores these acts of resistance and refusal, without drawing an overly romanticized picture of migrant agency in face of precarity and marginalization.
Finally, in “A Citizenship of the Edge” Hall brings together critical border studies scholarship and urban scholarship to argue that border logics are not contained to the exterior, containing who can cross the boundaries of a nation state. Rather, Hall's work shows that this logic extends to the interior, thus creating displaceable citizens. Throughout the book Hall unfolds how “displaceability” (Yiftachel 2020) and economic dispossession create marginalized citizens. The account does justice to the multiple ways in which her interlocutors refuse and resist their own abjection. They “hang in there” (168) and, in the process, remake the urban margins.
Overall, this book provides an excellent analysis of how everyday bordering practices and economic dispossession produce marginalized citizenships that contribute to the growing literature on urban displaceability and everyday borders. It brings together important discussions on migration, globalization, bordering practices, citizenship, and urban renewal programs in contemporary Britain.
Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, Radboud University (NL)
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