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  • Conceptualising forced migration

    12 November 2013

    To conceptualise something is to construct it rather than to define or describe it. In this way, the metaphorical language used to talk about migration carries with it certain implications for the way we think about, and therefore act towards, migrants. This paper explores the conceptual and practical difficulties involved in separating out forced from unforced migrants, and considers the main categorical distinctions that have emerged over the years within the broader category of forced migrants. These distinctions, like the term ‘forced migrant’ itself, are artifacts of policy concerns, rather than of empirical observation and sociological analysis. This paper suggests that this raises problems, both for the practical relevance of research and for the dialogue between policy makers and advocates in the field of forced migration.

  • Refugees and ‘other forced migrants'

    12 November 2013

    This paper discusses a general problem that arises whenever one attempts to formalise and institutionalise a relatively new field of academic enquiry, such as forced migration, with the aim of having an impact on policy: namely, how to define the subject matter of the field. It argues that the scientific study of forced migration is, paradoxically, less likely to be ‘relevant’ to policy and practice, the more slavishly it follows policy related categories in defining its subject matter. This paper suggests that the main obstacle to what Cernea calls the ‘bridging of the research divide’ (1996) between these different populations of forced migrants is the over-reliance of refugee studies scholars on ad hoc distinctions which have important political and policy implications but which result in categories which are ill-suited both to comparison, and to the observation, description and analysis of empirical data.

  • Financing matters: where funding arrangements meet resettlement in three Mexican dam projects

    12 November 2013

    This paper investigates the implications for resettlement of the financial involvement of the World Bank and a coalition of private companies, in three separate Mexican dam projects in the early 1990s. This paper argues that financing arrangements can influence a project’s resettlement conditions. In two of the projects, the World Bank’s involvement was important in determining the high level of attention paid to resettlement planning and monitoring and the positive resettlement outcomes. In contrast, the lack of resettlement standards among the remaining project’s private sector financiers and the unresponsiveness of this group to pressures for reform on resettlement issues resulted in poor resettlement conditions. In an era of privatisation, the implications of this are serious. As governments turn to the private sector, rather than multi-lateral or bilateral development agencies, for assistance in infrastructure development, the likelihood also increases that the rights and needs of displacees will be marginalised.

  • Narrating displacement: oral histories of Sri Lankan women

    12 November 2013

    This paper examines how traditional discourses on repatriation and the return home have developed, whether they are accurate or appropriate, and subsequently suggests alternative perspectives on return (Black and Koser 1999). In particular, this paper focuses on the resettlement of internally displaced Sri Lankan women to their native villages, and argues that despite physical return, a “generalized condition of homelessness” (Malkki 1992: 37) persists due to physical, social and political forms of violence which obstruct the ability of many women to return ‘home’. It contends that for many Sri Lankan women, resettlement has meant merely the return to their geographical place of origin, and no more. More generally, this paper argues that both scholars of forced migration and the international humanitarian community are working amidst a conceptual framework that has yet to truly comprehend the complexity of experiences involved in return and reintegration.

  • The meaning of place in a world of movement: lessons from long-term field research in Southern Ethiopia

    12 November 2013

    This is a revised version of the Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture, sponsored by the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford and delivered at Rhodes House, Oxford on 12 May, 2004. Turton discusses the need for a theory of place that applies as much to the world of late modernity as to the pre-modern world, and helps us to understand what happens when pre-modern meets, and is overtaken by, modern. To this end, he examines what are called the ‘spatial practices’ of a small group of people who live in Southern Ethiopia.

  • AIDS, gender and the refugee protection framework

    12 November 2013

    This paper aims to show the extent to which the HIV/AIDS pandemic is a socio-economic phenomenon, underwritten by social relations of inequality (Baylies & Burr 2000:483) and the consequences this has for the marginalisation of forced migrants. This paper develops a framework for response to HIV/AIDS through an analysis of the ethics, human rights and law relating to forced migrants and HIV/AIDS. It argues that HIV/AIDS issues need to be recognised as a social rather than essentially a medical phenomenon and receive greater prioritisation in the international agenda of refugee protection in all phases of the refugee cycle from emergency relief, to care and maintenance, to return and reintegration, with all associated implications for post-war reconstruction and peace building. This requires a shift in thinking that recognises the importance of long-term development aims at the initial stages of emergency response and can assimilate a gendered approach in to refugee relief and assistance programmes.

  • Dilemmas of representation: organisations’ approaches to portraying refugees and asylum seekers

    21 December 2015

    Intergovernmental and nongovernmental organisations use images of refugees and asylum seekers to reach out to potential donors, inform their respective audiences, and demonstrate the positive impacts that the organisations’ activities have on the populations with whom they work. This pilot study seeks to better understand how organisations choose these images and what they hope to communicate with them. By interviewing representatives involved in the image selection process at both large and small organisations with a variety of outreach efforts and humanitarian goals, we investigate the decision-making procedures behind the images that connect subject and viewer. Our findings focus on (1) relationships formed between organisations and the audiences they target through images of refugees and asylum seekers, (2) relationships between organisations and the subjects of images they use, and (3) organisations’ strategies to position themselves in the 'humanitarian marketplace’ (Crisp 2010: 75) through image use. We then use the anthropological concept of gift exchange relations (Weiner 1992; Mauss 1990), as well as concepts of solidarity and 'post-humanitarianism' (Chouliaraki 2011: 364), to identify the implications of these relationships for both organisations and the subjects of the images they use. We end with suggestions for further investigation into the creation and use of images of refugees and asylum seekers.

  • The global governance of crisis migration

    3 September 2014

    Book description: Migration is often seen as part of a crisis: a consequence of crisis or a cause of crisis. This book provides fresh perspectives on this routine association. It examines commonly reported examples of ‘crisis-induced migration’ and ‘migration-induced crises’, critically exploring how contemporary migration analysis and policy-making deploy the concept of crisis. In doing so, the book also explores the roles that various forms and levels of governance play in producing, responding to, and sometimes re-producing these crises of migration. Three over-arching questions are explored: What is the nature of the association between migration and crisis? Who responds and how? What do commonly reported ‘crises of migration’ reveal about wider politics and more general migration processes? These questions are posed in relation to a diverse range of crises, themes and contexts at the heart of global policy debates: the global economic crisis, the political transformations of the Arab Spring, famine and conflict in the Horn of Africa, criminal violence in Latin America, xenophobic riots in South Africa, and mass exoduses and border closures. It also explores how crisis frames our understanding of the impact of migration on family life, and immigration policy development in ‘fortress’ Europe. Throughout, the book pays close attention to the role of policy-makers in anticipating and responding to crises, asking what can they learn from these situations and analyses.

  • Liberal democratic states and responsibilities to refugees

    16 September 2014

    Book description: Refugee law is both conceived as a response to the absence of human rights, and is one of the most powerful means by which human rights are restored. This comprehensive collection of leading scholarship examines the strengths of, and challenges faced by, international refugee law over its nearly century-long existence. Following an original introduction by Professor Hathaway, Volume I addresses the questions of the political and ethical reasons that states have agreed to implement refugee protection in international law; the conceptual boundaries of refugee status; and the systems and structures by which refugee rights are implemented. Volume II takes up the nature of contemporary challenges to the refugee law regime, and examines leading proposals to revitalize and reform international refugee law in order to sustain its vitality in modern circumstances. This topical volume will be of great interest to researchers and scholars in both law and related fields, as well as to lawyers and other practitioners working on asylum and related human rights issues.