Refugees and racial capitalism: what ‘integration’ in the labour market means
Professor Elizabeth C Dunn (Indiana University)
Public Seminar Series
Wednesday, 02 December 2020, 5pm to 6pm
Hosted by Refugee Studies Centre
Public Seminar Series Michaelmas Term 2020
Series convenors: Professor Matthew J Gibney and Professor Tom Scott-Smith
About the seminar
Refugee resettlement has long been seen as a purely humanitarian act. When refugees are “integrated” into the labour market, it is seen as a tool to promote values such as self-sufficiency and dignity. But refugee labour is often needed by host countries, and refugees are often inserted into industries where they are tasked with jobs host country nationals refuse to do. Using the example of the American meatpacking industry, which relies heavily on refugees resettled by the US Department of State, I discuss why refugees were simultaneously deemed “essential” and “prohibited” during the COVID-19 epidemic. This paradox, in which refugees are both indispensable and stigmatized, is used to racialize and devalue their labour, creating ethnic enclaves in the labour market that simultaneously permit them to work and trap them in dangerous, underpaid jobs.
About the speaker
Elizabeth Cullen Dunn is a Professor in the Department of Geography at Indiana University. Her work focuses on forced migration. For more than a decade, she has worked with refugees and internally displaced people. In her latest book, No Path Home: Humanitarian Camps and the Grief of Displacement, she looks critically at the refugee camp as a space of both bureaucratic regulation and existential crisis. Using an ontological approach, she shows that displaced people become stuck in camps not only because of war, but because of the logic of humanitarianism, which traps people in states of uncertainty, extreme pressure, and eventually abandonment. No Path Home is based on more than 16 months of ethnographic work in the Republic of Georgia, where Dunn lived and worked in a camp for victims of ethnic cleansing.
Read her full biography here
This seminar will be held via Zoom. Register online here
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