Welcome to the second volume of Refugee Review, the open access, multidisciplinary, multimedia, and peer-reviewed journal of the ESPMI Network. We are delighted to be able to share with you another rich edition of varied and challenging articles, opinion pieces, practitioner reports, discussions, and interviews from emerging scholars and practitioners around the world.
Human beings have been migrating for millennia; “migration is in..[our] DNA,” as Francois Crepeau eloquently stated. However, with persistent migration flows come new and troubling responses that lack flexibility and awareness of contemporary reality. The sealing of borders, tightening of security measures, and perhaps most troublingly, the perpetuation of rigid categories of refugee protection, exacerbate the many abuses perpetrated against migrants today, and lend little to solutions that might bring forward resolution for all parties. Rigid categories of asylum obfuscate the nuanced experiences and motivations of migrants and static categories—refugee, economic migrant, asylum seeker, smuggler, and irregular migrant—cloud the diversification of push and pull factors of migration. The needs for protection continue to be complex, and they often fall outside of established categories in international instruments and jurisprudence used to determine who can and cannot access rights inherent to being designated a refugee. In an era of increasing environmental migration, extraterritorialization, and the ever-pressing need for durable solutions all across the globe, categories and policies that concretize migrants into problematic hierarchies of protection and exclusion must be re-conceptualized.
For these reasons and many others, we have chosen to focus this edition of Refugee Review on the worthy topic of the re-conceptualization of forced migration and refugees in the 21st century. The journal encompasses many themes that can contribute to the places we can look in order to re-conceptualize forced migration and refugeehood: environmental displacement, citizenship and integration, international law conventions accessions and exceptions, protracted situations of displacement or lack of access to services once settled, statelessness, seaborne migration and state response, domestic and international policy, the recognition of agency, the importance of education, and ignorance of state, regional and ethnic histories.
The policies of the nation state emerge in a number of papers, whether in Miriam Aced and Anwesha Ghosh’s piece concerning de jure and de facto statelessness as they exist for communities in Jordan and India, or Sreya Sen’s related depiction of the reasons India is unlikely to accede to the 1951 Refugee Convention in the future. The theme of non-traditional receiving countries or countries with counter-narratives to their own long-term host status can be found in both Kelsey P. Norman’s close look at Egypt’s engagement with migrants and refugees as well as in Sabine Lehr’s exploration of long-term anti-immigration discourse in Germany. Challenges within the Canadian state in particular are reflected on in Lucia Frecha’s analysis of the potential for citizenship transformation as it may or may not occur in relation to health-based claims, in Michelle Ball’s case study of safe country of origin policies, and in Sule Tomkinson’s discussion of the challenges involved in accessing the refugee hearing room of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The lack of clarity regarding environmental displacement emerges in a number of texts, most notably in Mainé Astonitas, Jacqueline Fa’amatuainu and Ahmed Inaz’s discussion of the alternative and broadened protection that should be offered to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Nicole Marshall’s call for definitional clarity regarding environmentally displaced persons, for which she offers a four-category approach.
The important role of education is expressed not only in Theogene Baravura’s encapsulation of a higher education project within the Dzaleka refugee camp in Malwai, but in the work of William Jacob’s educational and aspirational dance work in Ghana and Liberia, and in the underpinning of Garretson Sherman’s work with youth in Staten Island, as interviewed by Laura Berlinger, who was mentored by both. Taking action to support the mental and psychological well-being of migrants is explored in both Christa Charbonneau Kuntzleman’s rumination on her work reuniting separated families through the Red Cross/Red Crescent and Elsa Oliveira’s assistance in aiding sex workers in Johannesburg to use visual and narrative methodologies to capture their lives. The calamitous situations surrounding seaborne migrants are taken up in earnest by seven scholars and practitioners in our Discussion Series, as introduced by Hillary Mellinger. Melissa Phillips considers the Horn of Africa and Yemen and the need to re-conceptualize the rigid distinctions between refugee, migrant and asylum seeker. Chiara Denaro calls for a re-conceptualization of the right to asylum during a time of restriction and lessening of political, civil and social rights that she refers to as the “emptying process.” Sophie Hinger discusses the Mediterranean and the way in which migrants are treated as security concerns that require military response, deterring “irregular migration” at any cost. Keegan Williams also confronts the Mediterranean, laying out the profound externalization of European Union borders with statistics that cannot be ignored. Bayan Edis discusses the serious gaps between Australia’s domestic policy and international obligations, and Olivia Tran asks whether we are likely to see another instance of complicated collaboration on resettlement such as that which took place during the Indochinese refugee crisis. Lastly, several publications ask us to question the very bedrock of understanding that supports how human rights and humanitarian purposes unfold around us, whether in Amar Wala’s interview that showcases the horrific and damaging nature of the security certificate’s regime in Canada’s refugee policy, or within Ben Mills’s rumination on the realignment of humanitarian purpose and Western reality.
We are incredibly proud to have worked directly with more than forty emerging scholars and practitioners to bring the second edition of our journal forward. We believe that the multidisciplinary, multi-locative nature of forced migration underlines the need for a diverse submission invitation, a rigorous but collaborative peer-review process, and a platform of open presentation. Once again, we state a commitment to the presentation of research and work that has allegiance less to particular institutions or geographies, and more to the lessons we can draw from utilizing the collective brilliance of the many institutions, non-profit organizations, projects, and personal involvements that our authors draw from and contribute to in their daily lives. Migrants past and present, emerging and established scholars, practitioners, artists, photojournalists, activists—all are welcome to speak here. We hope that this journal can, in a small way, act as a venue for bringing multiple strains of work and study into closer proximity for those that seek to know more about forced migration. It is too often that we are stymied by disciplinary boundaries, lack of funding, and lack of knowledge about how to come together.
We know that human migration—in an array of possible categorizations—will not cease. We also know that, in the 21st century, aspects of its nature will continue to change. It is thus practical, ethical, and imperative to engage with one another in critical discussion in order to consider not only the re-conceptualization of forced migration, but a new paradigm for action.
 Francois Crepeau, “From Enforced Closure to Regulated Mobility: The Need for a Paradigm Shift in Migration Policies,” RCIS Working Paper No. 2015/4, Keynote address delivered on May 13, 2015, at the 8th Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS) at Ryerson University, Toronto. Available at: http://www.ryerson.ca/content/dam/rcis/documents/RCIS%20WP%202015_04%20Crepeau%20Final.pdf.
The Emerging Scholars and Practitioners on Migration Issues Network (ESPMI Network) can be found online at http://www.espminetwork.com.
The opinions and statements found in Refugee Review: Re-conceptualizing Refugees and Forced Migration in the 21st Century are solely those of the authors and do not represent the views of the ESPMI Network or its editors, peer reviewers, supporters, or other participating contributors.
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