March 3 2022: RRN Research Digest

The RRN Research Digest provides a synopsis of recent research on refugee and forced migration issues from entities associated with the RRN and others.

You can download the digest in PDF format here: RRN Research Digest No. 119

Webinar: Haunted by Violence. March 11 at 10:30am EST/Toronto time. We are excited to welcome this extraordinary trio of anthropologists to CRS and LERRN for Haunted by Violence, a discussion of auto-ethnographical journeys between Bosnia-Hercegovina and the US (as well as Canada). Anyone interested in refugee subjectivity, autonomy, agency, epistemic or ontological violence may want to read these short interventions by the authors here before attending the discussion. Please register to receive a zoom link.


Bose, P. (2021). White nationalism and the specter of the refugee. In Nilsen, S. & Turner, S (Eds.), White supremacy and the American media (pp. 169-185). London: Routledge. In this chapter, the author argues that the figure of the refugee has always played a complicated and contradictory role in global culture. While those fleeing persecution and danger have been seen through the lens of victimhood and thus deserving of sanctuary, news coverage, discourse, and cultural representation have helped produce the refugee as a figure of threat. These are the ideas of refugees as a security threat, as a demographic threat, and as an environmental threat to existing populations and nations.

New Journal Issue: Banerjee, P. (Ed.). (2021). A Special Issue on Displacements and Dispossessions. Refugee Watch: A South Asian Journal on Forced Migration. This special issue includes original research papers and book reviews that engage with issues of forced displacement and dispossessions, specifically the role of education, the effects of economic recession and global pandemic, labour market and more. These articles are intended to initiate dialogue in transnational and global spaces and thus encourage innovative interventions. 

[Open Access] New Book: Yi-Neumann, F., Lauser, A., Fuhse, A., & Bräunlein, P. J. (Eds.). (2022). Material Culture and (Forced) Migration: Materializing the transient. UCL Press. The authors argue that materiality is a fundamental dimension of migration. During migration journeys, people take things with them, or they lose, find and engage things along the way. Movements themselves are framed by objects such as borders, passports, tents, camp infrastructures, boats and mobile phones. This volume brings together chapters that are based on research into a broad range of movements – from the study of forced migration and displacement to the analysis of retirement migration. The chapters are tied together by the perspective of material culture and an understanding of materiality that does not reduce objects to mere symbols.

New book: Twigt, M. (2022). Mediated lives: Waiting and hope among Iraqi refugees in Jordan. Berghahn Books. Using the example of Iraqi refugees in Jordan’s capital of Amman, this book describes how information and communication technologies play out in the everyday experiences of urban refugees geographically located in the Global South. It shows how interactions between online and offline spaces are key for making sense of the humanitarian regime, carving out a sense of home, and sustaining hope. This book paints a humanizing account of making do amid legal marginalization, prolonged insecurity, and the proliferation of digital technologies. The introduction can be read here. If you are interested in reviewing this book for a relevant journal, an electronic review copy can be requested here. To recommend this book to your library, use this form

[Open Access] Cantat, C., Cook, I. M., & Rajaram, P. K. (2022). Opening up the University: Teaching and Learning with Refugees. Berghahn Books. Through a series of empirically and theoretically informed reflections, Opening Up the University offers insights into the process of setting up and running programs that cater to displaced students. Including contributions from educators, administrators, practitioners, and students, this expansive collected volume aims to inspire and question those who are considering creating their own interventions, speaking to policy makers and university administrators on specific points relating to the access and success of refugees in higher education, and suggests concrete avenues for further action within existing academic structures.

 Salam, Z., Odenigbo, O., Newbold, B., Wahoush, O., & Schwartz, L. (2022). Systemic and Individual Factors That Shape Mental Health Service Usage Among Visible Minority Immigrants and Refugees in Canada: A Scoping ReviewAdministration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research. The purpose of this review is to explore the following research question: “what are the barriers and facilitators for accessing mental health care services among visible immigrants and refugees in Canada?”. A wide range of barriers and facilitators were identified at both the systemic and individual levels. Unique differences rooted within landing and legal statuses were also highlighted within the findings to provide nuance amongst immigrants and refugees. The interplay of structural issues rooted in Canadian health policies and immigration laws coupled with individual factors produce complex barriers and facilitators when seeking mental health services. The findings also provide suggestions for mental health care providers, resettlement agencies, policy recommendations, and future directions for research are discussed as actionable points of departure.

 [Open Access] Jubilut, L. L., & Casagrande, M. M. (2021). The continued pivotal role of the 1951 Convention in Refugee Protection: Evidences from dialogues with Latin American refuges law and the GCR. Editora da Universidade Federal de Roraima.

The 1951 Convention sets out the international legal definition of refugee accepted to this day and, at the same time, allows for its (regional) expansion. It also lays the foundation and the operational framework for a human rights-based approach towards rights for refugees. This human rights-based approach becomes clearer when dialogue between the 1951 Convention and more recent normative instruments – such as the Latin American Cartagena Declaration and the Global Compact for Refugees (GCR) is established. Building on these inter-normative dialogues, this article aims to unpack the lasting impacts of the 1951 Convention in its 70th anniversary, from a protection framework perspective and through Human Rights and International Refugee Law lenses.

Gisselquist, R. M. (2021). Involuntary migration, inequality, and integration: Vietnamese and Afghan Migrants in Canada, Germany, the U.K., and the U.S. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. 47(21).  This special issue explores the experiences of global migrants across diverse environments, focusing on inequality between migrants and host populations in countries of settlement. It explores questions such as: why are economic inequalities between these populations deeper and more persistent in some situations than others? How has ‘integration’ in this sense varied across groups and contexts over time? What factors contribute to such variation? What policies and programmes facilitate better and more equitable economic outcomes for migrants?

 Esaiasson, P., Lajevardi, N., & Sohlberg, J. (2022). Reject, limbo, and accept: the effect of migration decisions on asylum seekers. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

What effect does the state’s decision to grant or reject a residence permit have on asylum seekers? Relying on repeated surveys with recently arrived asylum seekers to Sweden, the authors examine how the “limbo” nature of the waiting period, and the subsequent rejection or acceptance, shapes asylum seekers’ life satisfaction, health, horizontal trust in Swedes, and vertical trust in Swedish institutions. The migration decision meaningfully affects their well-being and shapes their attitudes towards the host country’s institutions and people.

New book: Bisaillon, L. (2022). Screening Out: HIV Testing and the Canadian Immigration Experience. University of British Columbia Press. Following the sequence of events in the application process of a sub-Saharan African woman in her interactions with an immigration doctor, this book is an institutional ethnography of the Canadian immigration process from the perspective of the very people to whom the exclusionary health policy is directed. Laura Bisaillon demonstrates that mandatory HIV screening triggers institutional practices that are highly problematic not only for would-be immigrants, refugees, and refugee applicants, but also for those bureaucrats, doctors, lawyers, and other actors whose work tethers them to the Canadian immigration system. This book produces a vital corrective to state claims about the functioning – and the professional and administrative practices supporting – mandatory HIV testing and medical examination, showing how and where things need to change.


MPP as a microcosm: What’s wrong with asylum at the border and how to fix it by Yael Schacher, Refugee International, February 11, 2022. The program “Remain in Mexico,” formally known as the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), returned asylum seekers to Mexico while their claims were adjudicated has been terminated. However, in December, the administration began a court-ordered reimplementation of the program, putting asylum seekers at risk and belying the U.S. responsibility to provide access to protection at the border. In January, Refugees International’s Deputy Director Dr. Yael Schacher watched the first immigration court proceedings for asylum seekers placed in the new iteration of MPP in El Paso. In this brief, she describes “a program with a Kafkaesque quality,” applied arbitrarily and disadvantages asylum seekers in presenting their claims. The author argues the new MPP is indicative of a compromised approach to asylum at the border and fundamental problems with asylum adjudication in the United States and recommends a new approach to both.

The Fallacy of Control: Tightened Asylum and Reception Policies Undermine Protection in Greece by Daphne Panayotatos, Refugee International, February 24, 2022. Greek officials point to recent declines in the numbers of asylum seekers arriving, awaiting decisions, and residing in camps as indicators that they have “regained control” of the migration situation in Greece. However, the trends are primarily driven by policies and practices that undermine protection and dignified reception. New facilities on the Aegean islands and mainland reflect an approach to asylum based on deterrence, containment, and exclusion. This report details the current state of asylum policies in Greece, offering a new vision for responsibility and humanely managing asylum and reception.

With Australia reopening its borders to tourists, why are thousands of refugees still waiting for entry? By Claire Higgins & Regina Jefferies, The Conversation, February 15, 2022. There is no clear path for Afghans already in Australia. Not only has the Australian government been slow to process Afghans fleeing their homeland, but it has also not made it easier for those already in Australia to stay permanently.


Webinar: Haunted by Violence. March 11 at 10:30am EST/Toronto time. We are excited to welcome this extraordinary trio of anthropologists to CRS and LERRN for Haunted by Violence, a discussion of auto-ethnographical journeys between Bosnia-Hercegovina and the US (as well as Canada). Anyone interested in refugee subjectivity, autonomy, agency, epistemic or ontological violence may want to read these short interventions by the authors here before attending the discussion. Please register to receive a zoom link.

New film: Bisaillon, L. (2020) (dir.). The Unmaking of Medical Inadmissibility. In this 20-minute documentary film in animatic form, Bisaillon unfolds experiences that people including refugees and refugee applicants with chronic illness and developmental or genetic otherness have with the Canadian immigration system as they apply for permanent residency. The film features the stories of people wanting to immigrate to Canada permanently, who are struggling to deal with having been denied or contending with the possibility of being denied because of who and how they are. 14 original illustrations appear on the project website to help the viewer interpret the medial, legal, bureaucratic and academic language.

Short Course: Palestine Refugees and International Law led by Professor Dawn Chatty (RSC) and Professor Susan M Akram (Boston Law School). March 11-12, 2022. Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford. This online two-day short course places the Palestinian refugee case study within the broader context of the international human rights regime. Within a human rights framework, it examines the policies and practices of Middle Eastern states as they impinge upon Palestinian refugees. Through a mix of online lectures, online working group exercises and interactive sessions, participants actively engage with the contemporary debates in international law and analyze the specific context of Palestinian refugees in the Middle East (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza and Israel).

Short Course: International Online Schools in Forced Migration led by Dr. Catherine Briddick, Professor Matthew J Gibney, and Professor Tom Scott-Smith. Dates: 14-18 March 2022, 4-8 July 2022 and 11-15 July 2022. Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford. The school will be held three times online this year. Each Online School will involve an intensive, interdisciplinary and participative approach to the study of forced migration that enables people working with refugees and other forced migrants to reflect critically on the forces and institutions that dominate the worlds of displaced people. The course combines Oxford’s tradition of academic excellence with a stimulating discussion-based method of teaching, learning and reflection. The Online School will cover subjects including Conceptualising Forced Migration, The Moral Foundations of Refugeehood, International Law and Refugee Protection, and The Politics of Humanitarianism and a choice of optional modules.

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