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  • Transnationalizing the Arabian Peninsula: Local, regional and global dynamics

    14 February 2017

    This seventh issue of 'Arabian Humanities' aims to explore the processes of regionalisation and globalisation in the Arabian Peninsula by focusing the analysis on the oil-exporting countries that are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). We decided to examine the dynamics of extraversion and integration of their economies, societies, cultures and political systems through the lens of “transnationalism”.

  • The Transnationalisation of Care: Sahrawi Refugee Children in a Spanish Host Program

    3 January 2014

    This study contributes to the growing body of research that seeks to document and understand the views and experiences of refugee youth. It initially began as a supplementary project aimed at enriching interview data that had already been generated with Sahrawi children in the refugee camps in Algeria. This research effort forms part of a larger study set up by Dr. Dawn Chatty on Sahrawi refugee youth in Algeria and Afghan refugee youth in Iran funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The supplementary study was centred in Spain, where thousands of Sahrawi children spend their summer vacations with Spanish families as part of the Vacaciones en Paz (Vacations in Peace) hosting programme. Forty-six children who agreed to take part in the study were interviewed on similar topics as were addressed in the camp study, including gender, education, politicisation, hosting experiences, and aspirations for the future.

  • Holidays in peace: Sahrawi children visit Spain

    3 January 2014

    Thousands of young Sahrawis spend summer holidays with Spanish families. The Vacaciones en Paz hosting programme has grown into a transnational network which allows Sahrawi youth to partially offset the hardships of their daily lives as refugees.

  • Relocating: the asylum experience in Cairo

    3 January 2014

    Refugees’ experiences of living in non-Western urban settings are infrequently addressed outside those particular cities. This essay presents snapshots of refugees’ experiences of asylum in one such city, Cairo, where it is UNHCR which undertakes the refugee status determination process. Following a presentation of the main institutional actors involved in Cairo’s ‘asylum scene’, it outlines some of the ‘general’ and ‘normal’ problems, vulnerabilities and risks encountered by refugees there. The remainder of the essay documents the particular difficulties experienced by three groups of sub-Saharan African refugees in this city: survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, unaccompanied minors and young men at particular risk. It demonstrates that, far from encountering peace through asylum, they discover a site characterized both by new forms of violence and by repetitions of existing abuse, and highlights the reasons why the right to legal counsel is one of the most important rights that a refugee can have.

  • Book Review: Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics and the War on Terror

    3 January 2014

    Saviors and survivors lays the foundation for a welcome interrogation of the identity, motivations and actions of members of the United States’ Save Darfur Coalition, the self­styled ‘saviours’ of the book’s title. Mahmood Mamdani argues that America’s domestic determination to define and intervene in the supposed Darfur genocide is based not on knowledge, but rather on historically unfounded assumptions reproduced and solidified in light of contemporary geopolitics. More contro­versially perhaps, Mamdani suggests that a failure to understand the complexities of the conflict ‘has turned the movement to Save Darfur into the humanitarian face of the War on Terror’ (p. 6). Nonetheless, Mamdani rightly demands the historical contextualization of the conflict, dedicating five of eight chapters to tracing the pre­colonial, colonial and post­colonial development of Darfuri land and tribal politics, and noting the extent to which contemporary violence is a continuation of long­standing struggles over access to and use of land.

  • Not Born a Refugee Woman: Contesting Identities, Rethinking Practices

    12 August 2014

    Not Born a Refugee Woman is an in-depth inquiry into the identity construction of refugee women. It challenges and rethinks current identity concepts, policies, and practices in the context of a globalizing environment, and in the increasingly racialized post-September 11th context, from the perspective of refugee women. This collection brings together scholar_practitioners from across a wide range of disciplines. The authors emphasize refugee women’s agency, resilience, and creativity, in the continuum of domestic, civil, and transnational violence and conflicts, whether in flight or in resettlement, during their uprooted journey and beyond. Through the analysis of local examples and international case studies, the authors critically examine gendered and interrelated factors such as location, humanitarian aid, race, cultural norms, and current psycho-social research that affect the identity and well being of refugee women. This volume is destined to a wide audience of scholars, students, policy makers, advocates, and service providers interested in new developments and critical practices in domains related to gender and forced migrations.

  • 'Brothers' or Others: Propriety and Gender for Muslim Arab Sudanese in Egypt

    12 August 2014

    Muslim Arab Sudanese in Cairo have played a fundamental role in Egyptian history and society during many centuries of close relations between Egypt and Sudan. Although the government and official press describes them as "brothers" in a united Nile Valley, recent political developments in Egypt have underscored the precarious legal status of Sudanese in Cairo. Neither citizens nor foreigners, they are in an uncertain position, created in part through an unusual ethnic discourse which does not draw principally on obvious characteristics of difference. This rich ethnographic study shows instead that Sudanese ethnic identity is created from deeply held social values, especially those concerning gender and propriety, shared by Sudanese and Egyptian communities. The resulting ethnic identity is ambiguous and flexible, allowing Sudanese to voice their frustrations and make claims for their own uniqueness while acknowledging the identity that they share with the dominant Egyptian community.

  • Refugees’ integration in Uganda will require renewed lobbying

    6 October 2015

    Despite being a country with a relatively progressive history of responding to refugees, Uganda unfortunately appears nonetheless to be falling at the final hurdle. As it currently stands, a number of long-staying refugees within Uganda have approached the Department for Immigration to apply for citizenship and have been denied by the authorities on dubious legal grounds. On 30th August 2010 a Petition was therefore filed in the Constitutional Court on behalf of several Congolese refugees to request the interpretation of the law vis-à-vis the opportunities for refugees to naturalise in Uganda, that is, to become Ugandan citizens. This was in response to the concern of numerous actors that the supposed impediments to refugees’ naturalising within the country are a case of discriminatory practice, rather than legislatively justifiable....

  • Negotiating durable solutions for refugees: a critical space for semiotic analysis

    6 October 2015

    Despite the proliferation of specialised agencies designed to reduce the prevalence of refugees worldwide, the number of individuals fleeing persecution is increasing year on year as endemic violence in countries such as Iraq, Somalia and the Syrian Arab Republic continues. As a result, media broadcasts and political dialogues are saturated with discussions about these “persons of concern”. Fundamental questions nonetheless remain unanswered about what meaning these actors attribute to the label ‘refugee’ and what intent, other than paucity of knowledge, might be driving the term’s use or manipulation. Though this is evidently important in the public arena, where incorrect conflations fuel mistrust and misunderstandings, the ramifications of these divergent understandings at the level of multi-lateral politics have yet to be critically explored. This article applies Barthes’ theory of the multiple orders of the sign to address this. Using the case study of the negotiations preceding the invocation of the Cessation Clause for Rwandan refugees, it illustrates how the word refugee is susceptible to numerous, simultaneous understandings, and discusses the implications of these manifold interpretations for how durable solutions are envisaged and negotiated in the refugee regime. In the case of Rwandan refugees in Uganda, this has meant that over a decade of stalemated discussions between the Governments of Uganda and Rwanda and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees over their future have been broken by a series of bilateral concessions that, whilst diminishing the political significance attached to this protracted caseload, have failed to address the continuing precarity of their situation. By conceptualising the word refugee as a sign according to the Saussurean model of semiotics, this paper therefore argues that despite the term’s established legal-normative definition, its inherent malleability makes it susceptible to processes of political instrumentalisation. This elevates the refugee as a rhetorical figure above the refugee as a physical-legal body entitled to certain forms of assistance.