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RSC academics and researchers have authored a wide range of books, including:

Refugees, Self-Reliance, Development: A Critical HistoryWritten by Evan Easton-Calabria, Refugees, Self-Reliance, Development: A Critical History brings new dimensions to refugee and international development studies. The promotion of refugee self-reliance is evident today, yet its history remains largely unexplored, with good practices and longstanding issues often missed. Through archival and contemporary evidence, this book documents a century of little-known efforts to foster refugee self-reliance, including the economic, political, and social motives driving this assistance.

With five case studies from Greece, Tanzania, Pakistan, Uganda, and Egypt, the book tracks refugee self-reliance as a malleable concept used to pursue ulterior interests. It reshapes understandings of refugee self-reliance and delivers important messages for contemporary policy making. The first chapter is available Open Access under CC-BY-NC-ND licence. (Bristol University Press, June 2022)

The Alevis in Modern Turkey and the Diaspora: Recognition, Mobilisation and TransformationEdited by Derya Ozkul (RSC) and Hege Markussen (Lund University), The Alevis in Modern Turkey and the Diaspora explores the struggles of a minority group – Alevis – for recognition and representation in Turkey and the diaspora. It examines how they mobilise against state practices and claim their rights, while at the same time negotiating how they define themselves. The authors offers a conceptual framework to study minorities by looking at both structural and agency-related factors in resisting state pressure and mobilising for their rights. The Alevis in Modern Turkey and the Diaspora is divided into three main sections looking into: the Turkish state and society’s pressures over Alevis; how Alevis struggle and obtain representation in various Western countries; and how traditional authority and rituals transform under these conditions. Studying this minority group’s experience helps to understand oppression and resistance in the broader Middle East. (Edinburgh University Press, February 2022)

Oxford Handbook of International Refugee LawEdited by Cathryn Costello, Michelle Foster, and Jane McAdam, The Oxford Handbook of International Refugee Law is a comprehensive, critical work, which analyses the state of research across the refugee law regime as a whole. Drawing together leading and emerging scholars, the Handbook provides both doctrinal and theoretical analyses of international refugee law and practice. It critiques existing law from a variety of normative positions, with several chapters identifying foundational flaws that open up space for radical rethinking. Many authors work directly in the field, and their contributions demonstrate how scholarship and practice can mutually inform each other. Contributions assess a wide range of international legal instruments relevant to refugee protection, including from international human rights law, international humanitarian law, international migration law, the law of the sea, and international and transnational criminal law. Geographically, contributors examine regional and domestic laws and practices from around the world, with 10 chapters focused on specific regions. This Handbook provides an account, as well as a critique, of the status quo, and in so doing it sets the agenda for future academic research in international refugee law. (Oxford University Press, June 2021)

Refugees: A Very Short IntroductionRefugees and other forced migrants are one of the great contemporary challenges the world is confronting. Throughout the world people leave their home countries to escape war, natural disasters, and cultural and political oppression. Unfortunately, even today, the international community struggles to provide an adequate response to this vast population in need. Refugees: A Very Short Introduction covers a broad range of issues around the causes and impact of the contemporary refugee crisis for both receiving states and societies, for global order, and for refugees and other forced migrants themselves. In his final book, Gil Loescher discusses the identity of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons and how they differ from other forced migrants. He also investigates the long history of the refugee phenomenon and how refugees became a central concern of the international community during the twentieth and twenty first centuries, as well as considering the responses provided by governments and international aid organisations to refugee needs. Loescher concludes by focusing on the necessity of these bodies to understand the realities of the contemporary refugee situation in order to best respond to its current and future challenges. (Oxford University Press, May 2021)

The Wealth of Refugees

We live in an age of displacement. Refugee numbers are increasing due to a proliferation of fragile states, and this problem will be exacerbated by climate change and the impact of coronavirus. And yet, rising populist nationalism has undermined the political willingness of rich countries to accept migrants and asylum seekers. Given these contradictory trends, how can we create sustainable refugee policies that can enable displaced people to live in safety and dignity, while operating at scale? Written by Alexander Betts, The Wealth of Refugees: How Displaced People Can Build Economies draws upon a decade of original qualitative and quantitative research to offer practical solutions. Focusing on refugees in camps and cities in Africa, it identifies approaches that can be effective in improving the welfare of refugees, increasing social cohesion between refugees and host communities, and reducing the need for onward migration. The book argues that the key lies in unlocking the potential contributions of refugees themselves. They bring skills, talents, and aspirations and can be a benefit rather than a burden to receiving societies. Realising this potential relies upon moving beyond a purely humanitarian focus to fully include refugees in host country economies, build economic opportunities in refugee-hosting regions, and navigate the ambiguous politics of refugee protection. (Oxford University Press, April 2021)

Structures of Protection? cover showing black & white sketch of a fence and fields beyondEdited by Tom Scott-Smith and Mark E Breeze (University of Cambridge), Structures of Protection? Rethinking Refugee Shelter questions what shelter is and how we can define it. The volume brings together essays on different forms of refugee shelter, with a view to widening public understanding about the lives of forced migrants and developing theoretical understanding of this oft-neglected facet of the refugee experience.

Drawing on a range of disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, law, architecture, and history, each of the chapters describes a particular shelter and uses this to open up theoretical reflections on the relationship between architecture, place, politics, design and displacement. Authors include former RSC Early Career Fellows Tom Western and Robin Vandevoordt, and former Visiting Research Fellow Daniel Howden. 

The book is the product of a conference, convened by Scott-Smith and Breeze, which took place in 2018 at St. Cross College. (Berghahn Books Forced Migration series, May 2020) 

Book cover for On an Empty StomachIn On an Empty Stomach: Two Hundred Years of Hunger Relief, Tom Scott-Smith examines the practical techniques humanitarians have used to manage and measure starvation, from Victorian "scientific" soup kitchens to space-age, high-protein foods. Tracing the evolution of these techniques since the start of the nineteenth century, Scott-Smith argues that humanitarianism is not a simple story of progress and improvement, but rather is profoundly shaped by sociopolitical conditions. Aid is often presented as an apolitical and technical project, but the way humanitarians conceive and tackle human needs has always been deeply influenced by culture, politics, and society. These influences extend down to the most detailed mechanisms for measuring malnutrition and providing sustenance. As Scott-Smith shows, over the past century, the humanitarian approach to hunger has redefined food as nutrients and hunger as a medical condition. Aid has become more individualized, medicalized, and rationalized, shaped by modernism in bureaucracy, commerce, and food technology. On an Empty Stomach focuses on the gains and losses that result, examining the complex compromises that arise between efficiency of distribution and quality of care. Scott-Smith concludes that humanitarian groups have developed an approach to the empty stomach that is dependent on compact, commercially produced devices and is often paternalistic and culturally insensitive. (Cornell University Press, April 2020)

Book cover for 'The Global Governed?'The Global Governed? Refugees as Providers of Protection and Assistance, by Kate Pincock, Alexander Betts and Evan Easton-Calabria, focuses on the role of refugee-led organisations at the local level. When refugees flee war and persecution, protection and assistance are usually provided by UN organisations and their NGO implementing partners. In camps and cities, the dominant humanitarian model remains premised upon a provider-beneficiary relationship. In parallel to this model, however, is a largely neglected story: refugees themselves frequently mobilise to create organisations or networks as alternative providers of social protection. Based on fieldwork in refugee camps and cities in Uganda and Kenya, this book examines how refugee-led organisations emerge, the forms they take, and their interactions with international institutions. Developing an original theoretical framework based on the concept of 'the global governed', the book shows how power and hierarchy mediate the seemingly benign notion of protection. Drawing upon ideas from anthropology and international relations, it offers an alternative vision for more participatory global governance, of relevance to other policy-fields including development, humanitarianism, health, peacekeeping, and child protection. (Cambridge University Press, March 2020)

syria-making-&-unmaking.jpgSyria: The Making and Unmaking of a Refuge State, by Dawn Chatty, places the current Syrian 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. 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, arguing that the resilience and strength of Syrian society both displaced internally within Syria and externally across borders bodes well for successful return and reintegration. (Hurst/Oxford University Press, January 2018)


Refuge.jpgRefuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System, by Alexander Betts and Paul Collier, presents a new vision for refuge. Betts and Collier demonstrate that while Europe is facing its greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War, the institutions responding to it remain virtually unchanged from those created in the post-war era. They show that this crisis offers an opportunity for reform if international policy-makers focus on delivering humane, effective and sustainable outcomes – both for Europe and for countries that border conflict zones. 

Refugees need more than simply food, tents and blankets, and research demonstrates that they can offer tangible economic benefits to their adopted countries if given the right to work and education. Refuge sets out an alternative vision that can empower refugees to help themselves, contribute to their host societies, and even rebuild their countries of origin. (Penguin Allen Lane, March 2017)


costello-human-rights-eu-law.jpgJoint winner of the 2016 Odysseus Network Best Publication Prize, The Human Rights of Migrants and Refugees in European Law, by Cathryn Costello, examines the EU law on immigration and asylum, addressing related questions of security of residence. Concentrating on the key measures concerning both the rights of third-country nationals to enter and stay in the EU, and the EU's construction of illegal immigration, it provides a detailed and critical discussion of EU and ECHR migration and refugee law. It asks the question, does the EU fulfil its post-national promise to create forms of membership beyond the state, or in its treatment of non-Europeans, does it undermine human rights and existing legal protections?

Part of the acclaimed Oxford Studies in European Law, the book contributes a scholarly analysis of EU and ECHR migration and refugee law, including key EU legislative measures, the Court of Justice’s main rulings, and related European Court of Human Rights case law. (Oxford University Press, December 2015)

refugee-economies-front-cover.jpgRefugee Economies: Forced Displacement and Development, by Alexander Betts, Louise Bloom, Josiah Kaplan and Naohiko Omata, is one of the first books to systematically explore the economic lives of refugees. It adopts an inter-disciplinary approach, based on original qualitative and quantitative data on the economic life of refugees, in order to begin to build theory on the economic lives of refugees. Uganda provides the focus because it represents a relatively positive case. Unlike other governments in the region, it has taken the positive step to allow refugees the right to work and a significant degree of freedom of movement through it so-called 'Self-Reliance Strategy'.

Refugee Economies provides a comparative analysis across urban areas, protracted refugee camps, and emergency refugee camps, including chapters on the role of business and the role of innovation. The book offers an alternative vision for refugee policy based on supporting the capacities of refugees. (Oxford University Press, November 2016)

eu-asylum-policies-zaun.jpgEU Asylum Policies: The Power of Strong Regulating States, by Natascha Zaun, fills a significant lacuna in our understanding of the refugee crisis by analysing the dynamics that lie behind 15 years of asylum policies in the EU. It reveals why cooperation has led to reinforced refugee protection on paper but has failed to provide it in practice. 

Offering innovative empirical, theoretical and methodological research on this crucial topic, Zaun argues that the different asylum systems and priorities of the various Member States explain the EU’s lack of initiative in responding to this humanitarian emergency. She demonstrates that the strong regulators of North-Western Europe have used their powerful bargaining positions to shape EU asylum policies decisively, which has allowed them to impose their will on Member States in South-Eastern Europe. These latter countries, having barely made a mark on EU policies, are now facing significant difficulties in implementing them. (Springer, January 2017) 

mobilising-the-diaspora.jpgMobilising the Diaspora: How Refugees Challenge Authoritarianism, by Alexander Betts and Will Jones, offers an in-depth examination of the internal politics of transnational mobilisation. Studying Rwandan and Zimbabwean exiles, it exposes the power, interests, and unexpected agendas behind mobilisation, revealing the surprising and ambivalent role played by outsiders. Far from being passive victims waiting for humanitarian assistance, refugees engage actively in political struggle. From Rwandans resisting their repatriation, to Zimbabweans preventing arms shipments, political exiles have diverse aims and tactics. The governments they face also deploy a range of transnational strategies, and those that purport to help them often do so with hidden agendas. This shifting landscape reveals the centrality of transnationalism within global politics, the historical and political contingency of diasporas, and the precarious agency of refugees. (Cambridge University Press, November 2016)


OmataMythofSelfReliance-2.jpgFor many refugees, economic survival in a refugee camp is extremely difficult. The Myth of Self-Reliance: Economic Lives Inside a Liberian Refugee Camp, by Naohiko Omata, challenges the reputation of Ghana’s Buduburam refugee camp as a ‘self-reliant’ model, and sheds light on the considerable economic inequality between refugee households, drawing on both qualitative and quantitative research. By following the same refugee households over several years, it also provides valuable insights into refugees’ experiences of repatriation to Liberia after protracted exile and their responses to the ending of refugee status for remaining refugees in Ghana. (Berghahn Books Forced Migration series, June 2017)



transnational-middle-east-vignal.jpgThe Transnational Middle East: People, Places, Borders, edited by Leïla Vignal, posits that, in the Middle East, the development of regional dynamics, of processes and circulations of all kinds, can be documented. The approaches it develops – ‘bottom-up’ regionalisation, ‘globalisation from below’ – allow for a better understanding of the ways in which the Middle East is part of global transformations. The book analyses how, through their practices, Middle East societies elaborate a regional space which is not institutionalised. Based on fieldwork in the Middle East, the book provides venues for further theoretical elaboration on globalisation and contemporary societies, as well as on processes of regionalisation. (Routledge, October 2016)



Find a full list of RSC publications here >>