This week saw a week of fascinating posts by anthropologists working in the field of refugees and (forced) migration. To continue their work, we are relaunching our list from December 2014 of the latest books related to refugees, migration, and the structural violence often accompanying the two, this time with a call for reviews. So if you are interested in reviewing one of the books featured, contact Allegra’s reviews editor Judith Beyer or reviews assistant Rosie Gant at email@example.com and they will happily send out a copy!
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Andersson, Ruben. 2014. Illegality, Inc. Clandestine Migration and the Business of Bordering Europe. Oakland: University of California Press. 360 pp. Pb: $29.95. ISBN: 9780520282520
In this groundbreaking ethnography, Ruben Andersson, a gifted anthropologist and journalist, travels along the clandestine migration trail from Senegal and Mali to the Spanish North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Through the voices of his informants, Andersson explores, viscerally and emphatically, how Europe’s increasingly powerful border regime meets and interacts with its target–the clandestine migrant. This vivid, rich work examines the subterranean migration flow from Africa to Europe, and shifts the focus from the “illegal immigrants” themselves to the vast industry built around their movements. This fascinating and accessible book is a must-read for anyone interested in the politics of international migration and the changing texture of global culture.
Arbel, Efrat, Catherine Dauvergne, and Jenni Millbank (eds.). 2014. Gender in Refugee Law. From the Margins to the Centre. Routledge. 296 pp. Hb: £90.00. ISBN: 9780415839426.
Evaluating the research and advocacy agendas for gender in refugee law ten years beyond the 2002 UNHCR Gender Guidelines, the book investigates the current status of gender in refugee law. It examines gender-related persecution claims of both women and men, including those based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and explores how the development of an anti-refugee agenda in many Western states exponentially increases vulnerability for refugees making gendered claims. The volume includes contributions from scholars and members of the advocacy community that allow the book to examine conceptual and doctrinal themes arising at the intersection of gender and refugee law, and specific case studies across major Western refugee-receiving nations. The book will be of great interest and value to researchers and students of asylum and immigration law, international politics, and gender studies.
Cabot, Heath. 2014. On the Doorstep of Europe: Asylum and Citizenship in Greece. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 272 pp. £42.50. ISBN: 9780812246155
On the Doorstep of Europe is an ethnographic study of the asylum system in Greece, tracing the ways asylum seekers, bureaucrats, and service providers attempt to navigate the dilemmas of governance, ethics, knowledge, and sociability that emerge through this legal process. Centering on the work of an asylum advocacy NGO in Athens, Heath Cabot explores how workers and clients grapple with predicaments endemic to Europeanization and rights-based protection. Drawing inspiration from classical Greek tragedy to highlight both the transformative potential and the violence of law, Cabot charts the structural violence effected through European governance, rights frameworks, and humanitarian intervention while also exploring how Athenian society is being remade from the inside out. She shows how, in contemporary Greece, relationships between insiders and outsiders are radically reconfigured through legal, political, and economic crises.
Giordano, Cristiana. 2014. Migrants in Translation. Caring and the Logics of Difference in Contemporary Italy. Oakland: University of California Press. 304 pp. Pb: $34.95. ISBN: 9780520276666
Migrants in Translation is an ethnographic reflection on foreign migration, mental health, and cultural translation in Italy. Its larger context is Europe and the rapid shifts in cultural and political identities that are negotiated between cultural affinity and a multicultural, multiracial Europe. The issue of migration and cultural difference figures as central in the process of forming diverse yet unified European identities. In this context, legal and illegal foreigners – mostly from Eastern Europe and Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa – are often portrayed as a threat to national and supranational identities, security, cultural foundations, and religious values.
This book addresses the legal, therapeutic, and moral techniques of recognition and cultural translation that emerge in response to these social uncertainties. In particular, Migrants in Translation focuses on Italian ethno-psychiatry as an emerging technique that provides culturally appropriate therapeutic services exclusively to migrants, political refugees, and victims of torture and trafficking. Cristiana Giordano argues that ethno-psychiatry’s focus on cultural identifications as therapeutic – inasmuch as it complies with current political desires for diversity and multiculturalism – also provides a radical critique of psychiatric, legal, and moral categories of inclusion, and allows for a rethinking of the politics of recognition.
Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Elena, Gil Loescher, Katy Long, and Nando Sigona (eds.). 2014. The Oxford Handbook of Refugee & Forced Migration Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 784 pp. Hb: £95.00. ISBN: 9780199652433
This Handbook critically traces the birth and development of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, and vividly illustrates the vibrant and engaging debates that characterize this rapidly expanding field of research and practice. The contributions highlight the key challenges faced by academics and practitioners working with and for forcibly displaced populations around the world, as well as identifying new directions for research in the field. Since emerging as a distinct field of study in the early 1980s, Refugee and Forced Migration Studies has grown from being of concern of a relatively small number of scholars and policy analysts to become a global field with thousands of students worldwide studying displacement, either from traditional disciplinary perspectives or as a core component of newer interdisciplinary programmes across the Humanities and Social and Political Sciences. Today the field encompasses both rigorous academic research as well as action-research focused on advocating in favour of refugees’ needs and rights and more directly concerned with influencing policy and practice. The Handbook’s fifty-two state-of-the-art chapters, written by leading academics, practitioners, and policymakers working in universities, research centres, think tanks, NGOs, and international organizations across every continent, provide a comprehensive and cutting-edge overview of the key intellectual, political, social, and institutional challenges arising from mass displacement in the world today.
Holmes, Seth. 2013. Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States. Oakland: University of California Press. 264 pp. Pb: $27.95. ISBN: 9780520275140
The book provides an intimate examination of the everyday lives and suffering of Mexican migrants in our contemporary food system. An anthropologist and MD in the mold of Paul Farmer and Didier Fassin, Holmes shows how market forces, anti-immigrant sentiment, and racism undermine health and health care. Holmes’s material is visceral and powerful. He trekked with his companions illegally through the desert into Arizona and was jailed with them before they were deported. He lived with indigenous families in the mountains of Oaxaca and in farm labor camps in the U.S., planted and harvested corn, picked strawberries, and accompanied sick workers to clinics and hospitals. This “embodied anthropology” deepens our theoretical understanding of the ways in which social inequalities and suffering come to be perceived as normal and natural in society and in health care.
McConnachie, Kirsten. 2014. Governing Refugees. Justice, Order and Legal Pluralism. Routledge. 200 pp. Hc: $135.00. ISBN: 9780415834001
Refugee camps are imbued in the public imagination with assumptions of anarchy, danger and refugee passivity. Governing Refugees: Justice, Order and Legal Pluralism challenges such assumptions, arguing that refugee camps should be recognized as spaces where social capital can not only survive, but thrive. This book examines camp management and the administration of justice in refugee camps on the Thailand-Burma border. Emphasising the work of refugees themselves in coping with and adapting to encampment, it considers themes of agency, sovereignty and legal pluralism in an analysis of local governance and the production of order beyond the state. Governing Refugees will appeal to anyone with relevant interests in law, anthropology and criminology, as well as those working in the area of refugee studies.
Shah, Svati P. 2014. Street Corner Secrets: Sex, Work, and Migration in the City of Mumbai. Durham: Duke University Press. 280 pp. Pb: $24.95. ISBN: 9780822356981
Street Corner Secrets challenges widespread notions of sex work in India by examining solicitation in three spaces within the city of Mumbai that are seldom placed within the same analytic frame – brothels, streets, and public day-wage labor markets (nakas), where sexual commerce may be solicited discretely alongside other income-generating activities. Focusing on women who migrated to Mumbai from rural, economically underdeveloped areas within India, Svati P. Shah argues that selling sexual services is one of a number of ways women working as laborers may earn a living, demonstrating that sex work, like day labor, is a part of India’s vast informal economy. Here, various means of earning – legitimized or stigmatized, legal or illegal – overlap or exist in close proximity to one another, shaping a narrow field of livelihood options that women navigate daily. In the course of this rich ethnography, Shah discusses policing practices, migrants’ access to housing and water, the idea of public space, critiques of states and citizenship, and the discursive location of violence within debates on sexual commerce. Throughout, the book analyzes the epistemology of prostitution, and the silences and secrets that constitute the discourse of sexual commerce on Mumbai’s streets.
Smyth, Ciara. 2014. European Asylum Law and the Rights of the Child. Oxford: Routledge. 250pp. Hc: $145. ISBN: 9780415855013
This book addresses the question of whether the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) complies with the rights of the child. It contrasts the normative standards of international child rights law with the treatment of child asylum seekers and refugees in the CEAS. Ciara Smyth identifies the attributes of the rights of the child that are most relevant to the asylum context and systematically examines whether and to what extent those attributes are reflected in the CEAS legislation. The book goes on to assess whether the CEAS instruments direct Member States to comply with the rights of the child, offering a comprehensive examination of the place of the child within European asylum law and policy.