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  • The environment-mobility nexus: reconceptualising the links between environmental stress, mobility and power

    11 February 2014

    Book description: Refugee and Forced Migration Studies has grown from being a concern of a relatively small number of scholars and policy researchers in the 1980s to a global field of interest with thousands of students worldwide studying displacement either from traditional disciplinary perspectives or as a core component of newer programmes across the Humanities and Social and Political Sciences. Today the field encompasses both rigorous academic research which may or may not ultimately inform policy and practice, as well as action-research focused on advocating in favour of refugees' needs and rights. This authoritative Handbook critically evaluates the birth and development of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, and analyses the key contemporary and future challenges faced by academics and practitioners working with and for forcibly displaced populations around the world. The 52 state-of-the-art chapters, written by leading academics, practitioners, and policymakers working in universities, research centres, think tanks, NGOs and international organizations, provide a comprehensive and cutting-edge overview of the key intellectual, political, social and institutional challenges arising from mass displacement in the world today. The chapters vividly illustrate the vibrant and engaging debates that characterize this rapidly expanding field of research and practice.

  • Sans Papiers: The Social and Economic Lives of Young Undocumented Migrants

    11 February 2014

    Undocumented migration is a huge global phenomenon, yet little is known about the reality of life for those involved. Sans Papiers combines a contemporary account of the theoretical and policy debates with an in-depth exploration of the lived experiences of undocumented migrants in the UK from Zimbabwe, China, Brazil, Ukraine and Turkish Kurdistan. Built around their voices, the book provides a unique understanding of migratory processes, gendered experiences and migrant aspirations. Moving between the uniqueness of individual experience and the search for commonalities, the book explores the ambiguities and contradictions of being an undocumented migrant. With its insights into personal experiences alongside analysis of wider policy issues, Sans Papiers will have wide appeal for students, academics, policy-makers and practitioners.

  • Creating identities, diminishing protection and the securitisation of asylum in Europe

    11 February 2014

    Book description: Sixty years on from the signing of the Refugee Convention, forced migration and refugee movements continue to raise global concerns for hosting states and regions, for countries of origin, for humanitarian organisations on the ground, and, of course, for the refugee. This edited volume is framed around two themes which go to the core of contemporary ‘refugeehood’: protection and identity. It analyses how the issue of refugee identity is shaped by and responds to the legal regime of refugee protection in contemporary times. The book investigates the premise that there is a narrowing of protection space in many countries and many highly visible incidentsof refoulement. It argues that ‘Protection’, which is a core focus of the Refugee Convention, appears to be under threat, as there are many gaps and inconsistencies in practice. Contributors to the volume, who include Erika Feller, Elspeth Guild, Hélène Lambert and Roger Zetter, look at the relevant issues from the perspective of a number of different disciplines including law, politics, sociology, and anthropology. The chapters examine the link between identity and protection as a basis for understanding how the Refugee Convention has been and is being applied in policy and practice. The situation in a number of jurisdictions and regions in Europe, North America, South East Asia, Africa and the Middle East is explored in order to ask the question does jurisprudence under the Refugee Convention need better coordination and how successful is oversight of the Convention?

  • Environmental stress, displacement and the challenge of rights protection

    11 February 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.

  • Religion and Humanitarianism

    11 February 2014

    Since the 2000s in particular, humanitarian actors and agencies have begun to investigate the implications of religion for humanitarian assistance and development. Due to the informal and decentralized nature of much faith-based assistance, it remains difficult to establish precisely how much humanitarian work is undertaken by locally-based religious communities, ranging from providing shelter during an emergency, mediating conflict or facilitating transitional and durable solutions for displaced populations. Indeed, the interplay between religion and modern humanitarianism can be complex. Key questions include whether the involvement of local faith communities and both national and international religious groups in humanitarianism necessarily contravenes basic humanitarian principles such as impartiality, independence and neutrality? Furthermore, are religious actors and stakeholders a sector present in virtually all humanitarian contexts that must therefore be constructively engaged with? This resource summary has been prepared in conjunction with the RSC/JLI Working Paper, "Local Faith Communities (LFCs) and the promotion of resilience in humanitarian situations", and aims to provide an introduction to this increasingly debated issue. The summary includes a sample selection of references selected from FMO, and a range of full-text documents, journal articles, web resources and relevant organizations. - See more at:

  • Unlocking protracted displacement

    11 February 2014

    If protracted – and often forgotten – situations of displacement are to be ‘unlocked’, the international community must circumvent the rigidity of existing solutions and search for new and innovative strategies.

  • Syria: The Making and Unmaking of a Refuge State

    1 February 2018

    The dispossession and forced migration of nearly 50 per cent of Syria’s population has produced the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. This new book places the current displacement within the context of the widespread migrations that have indelibly marked the region throughout the last 150 years. Syria itself has harboured millions from its neighbouring lands, and Syrian society has been shaped by these diasporas. Dawn Chatty explores how modern Syria came to be a refuge state, focusing first on the major forced migrations into Syria of Circassians, Armenians, Kurds, Palestinians, and Iraqis. Drawing heavily on individual narratives and stories of integration, adaptation, and compromise, she shows that a local cosmopolitanism came to be seen as intrinsic to Syrian society. She examines the current outflow of people from Syria to neighbouring states as individuals and families seek survival with dignity, arguing that though the future remains uncertain, the resilience and strength of Syrian society both displaced internally within Syria and externally across borders bodes well for successful return and reintegration. If there is any hope to be found in the Syrian civil war, it is in this history.

  • Sharing the security burden: towards the convergence of refugee protection and state security

    12 November 2013

    Efforts to ensure international protection for refugees have been repeatedly frustrated as states have expressed an increased reluctance to offer asylum. This paper proposes an approach premised both on the logic of burden sharing and on a more rigorous and comprehensive understanding of the relationship between refugees and security. Through the specific case of Tanzania, this paper argues that the broader goal of improving both the quality and quantity of protection afforded to victims of conflict-induced forced migration is best realised by recognising and addressing the legitimate security interests of states. Moreover, it illustrates that refugee protection cannot effectively take place in conditions of acute and protracted state insecurity.

  • Innovation spaces: transforming humanitarian practice in the United Nations

    13 March 2015

    Since 2009 there has been a growing interest in defining and operationalising innovation for use in the humanitarian context. The increase in scale of new crises, the urbanisation of many displaced populations, and stretched financing for humanitarian assistance are forcing international aid agencies to think and act in new ways. Along with other international humanitarian actors, several United Nations (UN) bodies are engaging with new tools and practices to bring innovation to the forefront of their work. Within these agencies, there has been a growing movement to establish ‘innovation spaces’ or ‘innovation labs’. These labs take different forms – some virtual, others physical – and each is created with its own motivations unique to the context in which it operates. Despite the variation, there is a growing trend in the UN system, and more broadly in the international humanitarian community, to create labs as a way to engage in and facilitate innovation practice. This research seeks to understand the way in which innovation labs across several UN agencies are being used to foster new ways of operating within the UN’s bureaucratic structures. We ask four key questions: What form do innovation labs in UN agencies take? What motivated their initiation? What are their aims and objectives? What impact have they had and how is the impact being measured? As innovation practice gains momentum, we reflect on the future of innovation spaces as a way to foster innovation within the UN system. We conclude with six key recommendations.

  • Performing the human: refugees, the body, and the politics of universalism

    8 August 2016

    This paper explores the conflict between the pervasive representation of refugees as the pure embodiment of humanity, and the continuing efforts to dehumanise them through various ‘othering’ strategies. Just as being human is an ever-unfolding process and not a static state of being, ‘refugeeness’ is a site of contestation where discourses regarding culture, society, economy, and politics constantly interact. Drawing on feminist and queer theories, this paper argues that the body is a vital site of identity construction, particularly with regards to the idea of humanity. Going beyond the existing literature on the relationship between ‘refugeeness’ and the body from an Agambean approach where the body is subjected to state control and discipline, this paper offers an alternative approach, that the body is not only subjected to discipline and regulation but also (re)produces, constructs, and resists ideas about identity and difference. Using three case studies of corporeal protests—naked protest, hunger strikes, and lip-sewing—this paper explores what these corporeal acts by refugees communicate as acts of resistance and attempts to reassert their humanity, and what role the body has in the construction and performance of humanity. The case studies prompt us to question our positionality in the ever-changing world; how our lives may be implicated in relations of violence; and how the body may offer a vehicle through which we can foster empathy and the capacity to shorten the distance between ‘the other’ and ‘the self’.