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Managing Displacement

Managing Displacement: Refugees and the Politics of Humanitarianism

Series: Borderlines
Volume: 16
Copyright Date: 2000
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Managing Displacement
    Book Description:

    In this analysis of how refugee relief services work in places such as Kenya and Somalia, Hyndman uses unique insider knowledge both to challenge the political and cultural assumptions of current humanitarian practices and to expose the distancing strategies that characterize present operations.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5283-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xxx)

    Forced to move from their homes to another country, refugees embody a visceral human geography of dislocation. The involuntary migration of bodies across space, however, is neither passive nor apolitical. In the 1990s, humanitarian discourse positions migrants in particular ways, while cultural politics are negotiated by a range of subjects unequally linked within the vast network of the international humanitarian regime. Humanitarianism is the site at which the projects of development and relief are being contested and recast in light of new geopolitical landscapes and neoliberal economies that transgress the boundaries of states.

    This book was spawned by three forays...

  6. 1 Scripting Humanitarianism: A Geography of “Refugee” and the Respatialization of Response
    (pp. 1-28)

    Borders breed uneven geographies of power and status. Crossing them in the name of humanitarian assistance is a political act, one that is more available to the governments of donor countries than to those who receive humanitarian assistance. Since 1991, when the United Nations entered northern Iraq for humanitarian reasons, this disparate power dynamic has been witnessed during numerous multilateral humanitarian interventions into countries at risk of producing refugees, a strategy known as preventive protection. Borders are material locations that embody specific historical, cultural, and political meanings. They are also testimony to dominant geopolitical discourses that generate states that are...

  7. 2 Border Crossings: The Politics of Mobility
    (pp. 29-60)

    Theorizing mobility begins with people’s stories and histories of migration. In Xavier Koller’s 1990 film,Journey of Hope, a poor peasant family sells its meager farm assets in rural Turkey, banking on swift passage to the utopic Switzerland that it has seen on a postcard sent by a relative. Of their many children, the parents take only one, their youngest son, who is to be the bearer of the family’s name and the agent of its future fortunes. Their journey is arranged by a contact whose trade and trafficking in illegal migrants is a lucrative business. In the company of...

  8. 3 Managing Difference: Gender and Culture in Humanitarian Emergencies
    (pp. 61-86)

    Responding to humanitarian emergencies is fraught with difficulties from the outset. Human displacement created by conflict, ethnic cleansing, or politically induced famine often emerges unannounced, rendering it difficult to plan for. No world region is immune to humanitarian crises and the implications of forced migration. In 1997, more than 22 million people were affected by displacement, both within and beyond the borders of their home countries. Humanitarian responses invariably involve communication among speakers of several languages, interpretation across more than one cultural divide, and the negotiation of political agreements at every step. Increasingly, assistance is being provided in war zones,...

  9. 4 In the Field: Camps, Compounds, and Other Spaces
    (pp. 87-116)

    Refugee camps are one temporary solution to the plight of displaced people throughout Africa. At the end of 1994, Kenya alone sheltered more than 250,000 refugees in camps located, for the most part, at the geographical and economic margins of the country. Refugees exchange the rights and entitlements of citizenship for safety in camps administered by UNHCR and supported by donations from countries in Europe and North America and from Japan. As prima facie refugees, they are spatially segregated in border camps and excluded from participating in Kenyan society.¹ This chapter focuses on the negotiation of space in three camps...

  10. 5 Ordering Disorder: Sitreps, Headcounts, and Other Instruments
    (pp. 117-148)

    There is no pure, apolitical, unadulterated way to deliver humanitarian assistance.¹ Relief agencies cannot operate outside the networks of power in the refugee camps and war zones in which they work. In areas of conflict and displacement, local power brokers often control certain territory or facilities, and require “compensation” for their “cooperation.” In 1992, CARE hired planes to transport staff and supplies into Baidoa—famine capital of Somalia at the time. CARE was required, in turn, to pay a landing fee to a self-appointed local authority each and every time a plane used the airstrip. In order to move around...

  11. 6 Crossing Borders in Theory and Practice
    (pp. 149-168)

    This chapter is an attempt to think outside the logic of camps, counting, and control. I examine some of the ways in which refugees deal with their displacement and outline a theoretical approach that defies borders, much as refugees defy the categories and locations to which they are assigned. Many of the findings presented here are based on serendipitous encounters that occurred during the course of the research. As such, they represent the edges of my research, which move away from a central focus in more diffuse directions. Accordingly, a theoretical approach that decenters the state and pays attention to...

  12. 7 Beyond the Status Quo
    (pp. 169-192)

    The current international humanitarian regime is clearly in crisis. Complex humanitarian emergencies have emerged without coordinated, consistent responses. Refugee protection and humanitarian assistance are not separate from ethnic tension, regional conflict, or state posturing. As official development assistance declines and multilateral humanitarian assistance increases, many countries appear to be distancing themselves from state-based obligations toward refugees. Rethinking state-centric assumptions of asylum is critical during this period of reflection and reform. On the one hand, material assistance should not become a substitute for international protection. Every effort to meet the extant mandates for protection, however minimal or partial they are, must...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 193-228)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 229-246)
  15. Index
    (pp. 247-253)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 254-254)