October 3, 2018: 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. 49

Recent Publications and New Research

Kutscher, Nadia and Lisa-Marie Kreß (2018) The ambivalent potentials of social media use by unaccompanied minor refugees. Social Media & Society 4(1).

This study focuses on the question of how unaccompanied minor refugees use digital (social and mobile) media in the context of their forced migration to Germany. It explores how they use these media to stay in contact with family and friends in their country of origin and beyond, to establish new relationships, to orient themselves in the receiving country, and to search for (professional) support. The authors present key findings and their theoretical implications as well as a methodological and ethical reflection on this research into how minor refugees maintain transnational social networks through their use of digital media. This article is part of a special collection edited by Koen Leurs and Kevin Smets entitled “Forced migration and digital connectivity in(to) Europe”. All articles are freely available in open-access format here: 


Carastathis, Anna, Aila Spathopoulou and Myrto Tsilimpounidi (2018) Crisis, what crisis? Immigrants, refugees, and invisible struggles. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees 34:1.

This article reflects on the use of the term ‘crisis’ in relation to recent events in Greece, including both the financial crisis and the refugee crisis. The authors ask: What are the different vocabularies of crisis? The paper explores whether the invocation of the term crisis has facilitated an institutional response in Europe and beyond. The authors conclude that the everyday reality is invisible in these representations and call for a shift away from a state-devised category and towards an examination that understands the categories of ‘immigrant’ and ‘refugee’ as part of the larger category of groups who have been made precarious through capitalist oppressions. This paper is part of a special issue on intersectional feminist interventions in the “refugee crisis” edited by Anna Carastathis, Natalie Kouri-Towe, Gada Mahrouse and Leila Whitley. An open access version of this paper is available here:


Saunders, Natasha (2018) Beyond asylum claims: refugee protest, responsibility, and Article 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The International Journal of Human Rights. Published online: June 26.

This article provides an analysis of the substantive content of recent protests by refugees and asylum seekers that goes beyond the growing body of literature focused on the refugee or asylum seeker as political subject. The author explores the claims and demands of refugees and asylum seekers in two long-running protest movements, in Austria and Germany. The article argues that the protestors’ demands go beyond claims for asylum and are better understood as rights claims that correspond to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 28 – demands for a social and international order suitable to the realization of human rights. As such, the author argues that these claims are not addressed by an approach based on the concept of responsibility for forced migration but instead correspond to the conception of political responsibility for structural injustice advanced by Iris Marion Young.

The article can be accessed here:


A limited number of free e-prints are available at this link:  


Young, Julie E. E. (2018) The Mexico-Canada border: extraterritorial border control and the production of ‘economic refugees’. International Journal of Migration and Border Studies (IJMBS) 4(1/2).

This author argues that the interplay between discourses of the ‘bogus economic refugee’ and Canada’s extraterritorial bordering practices is crucial to understanding human security in North America. This article proposes the concept of the Mexico-Canada border as shorthand for how Canadian policies and practices aim to police Mexico’s borders. The paper considers the specific example of Canada’s implementation of a visa requirement in 2009 in response to a so-called ‘surge’ in refugee claims by Mexican nationals. The author also examines how Mexico has been constructed as the focus of regional migration management, including through Canada’s Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program to support policing and border security efforts within Mexico. The paper concludes that both initiatives contribute to a broader Canadian strategy of Mexican refugee deterrence. This paper is part of a special issue entitled ‘Borders, (Dis)Order, And Exclusion: Mapping Migration Governance From the Margins,’ edited by Cetta Mainwaring and Margaret Walton-Roberts. Sadly, the full article is not open access:


Easton-Calabria, Evan and Naohiko Omata (2018) Panacea for the refugee crisis? Rethinking the promotion of ‘self-reliance’ for refugees. Third World Quarterly.

This article provides a critical examination of the current promotion of ‘self-reliance’ for refugees. The authors argue that existing scholarship largely ignores the unsuccessful historical record of international assistance to foster refugees’ self-reliance and has failed to consider its problematic linkages to neoliberalism and the notion of ‘dependency’. In this article, the authors show that the current conceptualisation and practice of self-reliance are largely shaped by the priorities of international donors that aim to create cost-effective exit strategies from long-term refugee populations. They argue that where uncritically interpreted and applied, the promotion of self-reliance can result in unintended and undesirable consequences for refugees’ well-being and protection. Sadly, not open access:


New Books

Chatty, Dawn (2018) Syria: The Making and Unmaking of a Refugee State. London: Hurst Publishers.

This new book places the current displacement of Syrians within the context of other migrations that have marked the region since the 19th century. The author underlines that while the dispossession and forced migration of nearly half of Syria’s population now constitutes the greatest refugee crisis since World War II, Syria itself has also harboured millions of people from neighbouring lands in the past, and these diasporas have shaped Syrian society. The author explores how modern Syria came to be a refuge state through major forced migrations into Syria of Circassians, Armenians, Kurds, Palestinians, and Iraqis. The book outlines how a local cosmopolitanism came to be seen as intrinsic to Syrian society. The author characterizes the current outflow of people from Syria to neighbouring states as that of people seeking survival with dignity, and argues that though the future remains uncertain the resilience and strength of Syrian society and this history of cosmopolitanism provides hope that successful return and reintegration may follow the present-day Syrian civil war. The book is available through the publisher:


Bloch, Aice and Giorgia Donà (eds.)(2018) Forced Migration: Current issues and debates. Oxford: Routledge.

This book provides a critical engagement with and analysis of contemporary issues in the field using inter-disciplinary perspectives, through different geographical case studies and by employing a variety of methodologies. Through their review of key research and scholarship and insights from their own research, the contributing authors provide a comprehensive and up-to-date analysis of current issues in forced migration.  The contributors to this edited collection include Paula Banerjee, Alice Bloch, Milena Chimienti, Anne-Laure Counilh, Giorgia Donà, Wenona Giles, Marie Godin, Jennifer Hyndman, Loren Landau, Nassim Majidi, Laurence Ossipow, Ranabir Samaddar, Liza Schuster Eftihia Voutira, and Roger Zetter. The book is available from the publisher (with a google scholar preview available without cost): 


Garnier, Adele, Liliana Lyra Jubilut and Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (eds.)(2018) Refugee Resettlement: Power, Politics and Humanitarian Governance. New York City: Berghahn Books.

This edited volume examines resettlement practices worldwide and draws on contributions from anthropology, law, international relations, social work, political science, and numerous other disciplines. It highlights the conflicts between refugees’ needs and state practices, and assesses international, regional and national perspectives on resettlement, as well as the bureaucracies and ideologies involved. This book also offers a detailed understanding of resettlement, from the selection of refugees to their long-term integration in resettling states, and highlights the relevance of a lifespan approach to resettlement analysis. The book is available for purchase here: http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/GarnierRefugee

An open-access version of the Introduction of the book is available here:


Chaudhury, Sabyasachi Basu Ray and Ranabir Samaddar (eds.)(2018) The Rohingya in South Asia: People Without a State. Oxford: Routledge.

This book examines the situation of the Rohingya in the South Asian region, primarily India and Bangladesh. The authors note that the Rohingya of Myanmar are among the world’s most persecuted minority populations without citizenship. They outline how after the latest exodus from Myanmar in 2017, more than half a million Rohingya in Bangladesh live in camps, often in abject poverty, while others have taken to the seas in search of a better life. This edited volume explores the broader picture of the historical and political dimensions of the Rohingya crisis, and examines subjects of statelessness, human rights and humanitarian protection of these victims of forced migration. Further, it chronicles the actual process of the emergence of a stateless community and the transformation of a national group into a stateless existence without basic rights. The book is available from the publisher:


Samaddar, Ranabir (ed.)(2018) Migrants and the Neoliberal City.  Orient Blackswan

This edited volume is the culmination of research conducted by the Calcutta Research Group on rural migrants as the core of the urban poor in India. The authors examine why and how this contradiction plays out in the lives of migrants, on whose labour Indian cities depend. They start with a view of cities as engines of economic growth but also as inadequate and contested spaces. This collection of twelve essays, based on extensive research and fieldwork, investigates the experience of migrating to three of India’s populous metropolitan cities: Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi. The authors focus on the interrelations between urban policy, governance, forms of labour, migration and neoliberalism as the political ideology motivating increasing urbanisation of India. Noting that cities are increasingly turning into sites of conflict, fragmentation, gentrification, and acute class conflict, the authors document and examine the coping strategies of these migrants as well as new forms of urban struggles and resistances to legal and policy regimes that have emerged. The book is available through the publisher:


Reports, Working Papers and Briefs

Cole, Georgia (2018) Questioning the value of ‘refugee’ status and its primary vanguard: The case of Eritreans in Uganda. Refugee Studies Centre (University of Oxford.)

This paper examines the perceived ‘value’ of refugee status for refugees and displaced communities in terms of accessing protection and longer-term solutions. Through empirical research with Eritreans in Kampala and Asmara, the author explores the taken-for-granted portrayal of refugee status as a necessary – or the best suited – gatekeeper to protection and enduring solutions. The paper seeks to reframe a frequent anxiety in forced migration studies, which centres on the question of whether there is something unique about refugees beyond their legal status that makes them a clear object of study. This research instead asks in what ways displaced individuals perceive that being assigned refugee status would make them different, and what they understand would follow from this in terms of securities and solutions. The author considers the role and value of refugee status not tin terms of its intended functions but rather through a grounded, granular analysis of people’s attitudes and responses to it. An open access version of this document is available here:


Bejan, Raluca (2018) Problematizing the Norms of Fairness Grounding the EU’s Relocation System of Shared Responsibility. European University Institute Working Papers. RSCAS 2018/35.

This paper problematizes the logic of the European Union (EU)’s provisional relocation system for internally redistributing asylum seekers. It argues that the tenets embedded in the current relocation scheme disregard the idea of distributive equity and apply the principle of solidarity and the fair sharing of responsibility asymmetrically between Member States. The paper asserts that equally matched levels of shared responsibility are not synonymous with fair responsibility and that Member States are not equal actors across the EU’s political, economic and social spheres. To achieve fairness, the author argues that the distribution of interstate responsibility must use unequal rather than equal scaling weights and proposes the concept of differing egalitarianism to guide interstate responsibility sharing efforts vis-à-vis the transfer of people in need of international protection within the EU. An open access version of this working paper is available here:


News and blog posts

Gordyn, Carly (2018) The Bali process and refugee protection in Southeast Asia. Asylum Insight.

This article explores the development of the Bali Process from a forum heavily focused on the securitisation of borders, to one that now considers refugee protection. The blog post is available here: https://www.asyluminsight.com/c-carly-gordyn#.W5XQE34nZTY

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