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  • Stories of a nation: historical narratives and visions of the future in Saharawi refugee camps

    12 December 2013

    This paper argues that the administration of refugee camps and humanitarian aid by refugees facilitates the creation of a national identity. In doing so it asserts that: camps are loci for the creation of collective narratives about their residents, administrative authority and economic control enable a power elite to gain asymmetric authority in a relational field, and nationalism meets the new elites’ need for legitimacy in the context of “traditional” narratives and provides a unifying “vision of the future”. This paper explores the specific sources and manifestations of Saharawi nationalism, including the construction of nationalizing structures by the Polisario elite and the impact of those structures on the Saharawi population. It concludes with the implications of this work for research on nationalism, refugee camps, and the Sarahawi.

  • Politics as usual: the criminalization of asylum seekers in the United States

    12 December 2013

    This paper explores the legislated, tactical, and discursive means by which asylum seekers and criminals have been cast analogously as both figures of putative threat and beings undeserving of the rights of citizenship over the past decade in the United States. It argues that one cannot fully understand the politics of asylum and unauthorized migration in the US without an analysis of the overwhelmingly penal and criminalizing mechanisms by which such politics are practiced. By critically assessing these mechanisms within asylum management technologies, it finds that contemporary immigration and asylum measures serve a variety of political and social functions domestically, distinct from the goal of restricting entry. These alternative functions include bolstering state legitimacy, facilitating the regulation and exploitation of labour, and containing social and political unrest.

  • Aceh under martial law: conflict, violence and displacement

    12 December 2013

    This document presents a collection of papers developed in conjunction with a one-day workshop held on the 20th May 2004 and organised by the Refugee Studies Centre in collaboration with the Asian Studies Centre, St. Antony’s College. The workshop focused analysis and debate on the conflict, violence and displacement under martial law in Aceh. Scheduled to coincide with the formal lifting of martial law on 19 May 2004, the workshop brought together academics and practitioners and, thus, a wide range of perspectives and expertise. Obstacles and opportunities for the long-term resolution of this protracted conflict were also explored during the day.

  • Contesting and reinforcing patriarchy: an analysis of domestic violence in the Dzaleka Refugee Camp

    12 December 2013

    The following paper is an examination of domestic violence in the Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi, with the intent to show that refugee domestic violence deserves to be studied more thoroughly and with a broad lens. It discusses three approaches used to explain domestic violence in Western and African contexts: individual reasons, culture, and structural violence. Moreover, this paper shows that the community may play a role either in resolving domestic violence by facilitating justice and healing, or legitimating it. Camp personnel, such as police, health care practitioners, administration and social services are members of this community. Lastly, Western development and humanitarian agencies, as well as international institutions, have claimed places in the discussion of refugee domestic affairs and their interests are played out in culture and through discourse.

  • The outside inside: Chechen IDPs, identity documents and the right to free movement in the Russian Federation

    12 December 2013

    The present war in Chechnya, like its predecessor, has become infamous for the human rights violations visited in its name upon civilians in the conflict zone. This paper examines the way in which the scope and reach of these human rights violations has expanded beyond the Northern Caucasus to include those who have fled Chechnya for other parts of Russia, sometimes hundreds of miles away from the fighting that displaced them. It shows that as the language of security becomes the ascendant discourse in Russia’s domestic affairs, authorities at both federal and regional levels have taken the liberty of imposing restrictions on the various identity documents that displaced Chechens would need to resettle outside their home republic. These bureaucratic measures have coalesced to create a de facto suspension of displaced Chechens’ right to free intrastate movement, limiting, if not extinguishing, their chances of finding refuge within Russia.

  • The conditions of just return: state responsibility and restitution for refugees

    12 December 2013

    Today, permanent resettlement is evaporating as a solution to refugee crises. For millions of refugees, return is no longer an option but an imperative (Hathaway 1997: 553). Drawing on international law and social contract theory, this paper argues that the state of origin has a fundamental responsibility to provide restitution to repatriating refugees with a view to creating just conditions of return. Rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to the challenges of return, restitution is a negotiated process involving modalities such as property restoration, financial compensation and trials, and aims to recast the fragmented relationship between refugees and their states of origin into a rights-based framework (Ellis and Hutton 2002: 334). Albeit an invariably imperfect process, this paper contends that it is through restitution that the state re-establishes its legitimacy by acknowledging and attempting to make good on the moral and legal responsibilities it abrogated by forcing its citizens into exile.

  • Introduction: continuity and change in global refugee policy

    5 March 2014

    This special issue of the Refugee Survey Quarterly brings together a selection of thepapers from the conference on “Understanding Global Refugee Policy” organized by the Refugee Studies Centre to celebrate its 30th anniversary. One of the many notable themes to emerge from the conference was the extent to which that period hasengendered continuity or change in global refugee policy. How has the agenda changed? Has the nature of the challenges facing policy-makers shifted over the last three decades? Has refugee policy become more politicised? Has finding solutions to refugee situations become more difficult? To what extent are main actors different? Is it still a fundamentally state-centric policy field? How have the main forums and institutions within which policy is made changed? The papers in this collection offer a window onto that question of continuity and change. In doing so, they address a range of important emerging themes and cover a wide set of geographical regions.

  • Research in Brief: Refugee Economies

    6 November 2015

    There is a global displacement crisis. Around the world more people are displaced than at any time since the Second World War, and there are around 20 million refugees. Yet alongside this trend of rising numbers, governments’ political willingness to provide access to protection and assistance is in decline. In the face of these challenges, the existing global refugee regime is not fit for purpose. It tends to view refugees and displacement as a uniquely humanitarian issue. When people have to leave their homes or cross borders, the conventional response is to meet their immediate needs in terms of food, shelter, clothing, water, and sanitation. The approach is broadly effective for providing emergency relief, but in the long run, it can lead to dependency. Over half the world’s refugees are in protracted refugee situations, having been in exile for at least 5 years. For these people, the average length in exile is around 17 years. From Kenya to Thailand, many are hosted in refugee camps in which they do not have the right to work or freedom of movement. Effectively, they are ‘warehoused’ pending an opportunity to return home, with significant implications for human rights and international security. This conventional approach is unsustainable. Host countries are closing borders; international donors are less willing to indefinitely support large numbers of refugees within camps; and refugees embark on dangerous journeys in search of protection. In this context, there is a need to rethink refugee assistance. Existing approaches too often ignore the skills, talents, and aspirations of refugees themselves. Yet refugees have capacities. They need not inevitably be a ‘burden’ on host states but have the potential to contribute economically as well as socio-culturally. Around the world, even under the most constrained circumstances, and sometimes under the radar, refugees in camps and urban areas engage in significant economic activity, and in doing so often create opportunities for themselves and others. Development-based solutions have for a long time been recognised as one way to overcome the worst consequences of protracted refugee situations. There has been a longstanding debate on the transition from ‘relief-to-development’ in refugee work. However, such approaches have historically suffered from a range of weaknesses. They have generally been state-centric, relying upon the presumption that donor governments might provide additional development assistance to induce host states to commit to self-reliance or long-term local integration for refugees. What has been lacking is a focus on the market-based activities of refugees themselves.