Call For Papers: Racialized Refuge, Reception Contexts and the Status-Labelling Space


Racialized Refuge, Reception Contexts and the Status-Labelling Space

Special issue of Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees

Guest Editors: Christopher Kyriakides, Dina Taha, Rodolfo D. Torres, Carlo Handy Charles

The interplay between racialization and the ‘figure of the refugee’ remains under-explored in refugee studies. Forced migration scholars recognize that the acquisition of refugee status – being deemed legally eligible for ‘refuge’ in ‘Western’ reception contexts – carries the conditionality of negative social and cultural signifiers. Yet, that ‘refugee status holders’ must negotiate negative signifiers as a condition of their ‘displacement’ and ‘resettlement’ denied or accepted, requires a fuller understanding of  racialized reception contexts. By the latter, we refer to status-labelling spaces informed by orientalist and primitivist racisms. This is particularly evident in the post 9/11 context where global military and ‘humanitarian’ interventions and local surveillance policies/procedures are linked to threat constructs, including ‘war on terror’, ‘security,’ ‘bogus asylum seeker’, and those various ‘Western rescue’ tropes once mobilized around 'saving the Third World’.

Within the contemporary racialized space is situated the ‘global refugee crisis’, a crisis discourse through which racialized refuge situates its targets as ‘passive victim’ to be saved and/or ‘pariah’ to be suspected. Scholarship which has questioned the passivity and agency framed through ‘forced/non-forced’, ‘voluntary/involuntary,’ ‘active/proactive’, ‘economic/non-economic’ binaries, alerts us to some of the difficulties which arise when attempting to develop a counter-narrative to negative constructs. ‘Recognizing’ refugees as ‘resilient’, ‘stoic’, ‘inventive’ and particularly of-late, ‘not economically motivated migrants’, or as part of more complex/heterogeneous ‘mixed movements’, must also recognize that ‘the positive’ is contextually delimited by historical and political factors which define the parameters of valid representations, all of which can be actively contested by the recipients of ‘victim/pariah’ constructs.  Three substantive areas related to racialization and ‘the global refugee crisis’ merit deeper exploration and extended discussion:

1. What are the global-local (social, political, cultural and economic) processes of  racialized reception that connect ‘official status’ with ‘unofficial label’? How and why do racialized reception contexts manifest and how do these manifestations connect with ‘refugee status’?

2. How might the racialized reception of refugees from ‘Global South’ and ‘Global East’ ‘sending’ contexts converge/diverge? What are the temporal and spatial parameters of positive and negative representations within the racialized status-labelling space? Are the parameters permanent/fixed? If not, how might changing signifiers reflect contemporary racialized reception hierarchies in ‘the West’?

3. Do racialized reception contexts ‘determine’ the ‘refugee status holder’ indefinitely? Or is a ‘subaltern’ or some other form of life constructed through subjective contestation inside/outside racialized reception contexts? If so, how and by whom is the extra-spatial determined?

Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees invites the submission of papers that explore one or more of these substantive points. Papers from scholars working in any discipline are welcome. ‘Pure’ theory papers will be considered; however, contributors should endeavor to include and reflect on empirically generated data (whether qualitative or quantitative or mixed), developed in their own work or from the previously published works of other scholars. We have no preference for specific regions or localities and we recognize that ‘resettlement’ is not confined to ‘Western’ reception contexts. We also recognize the multiple conflict-informed status-labelling spaces of ‘displacement’ and ‘camp life’ where ‘refugees’ often require the recognition of fellow civilians (displaced or not), military groups and militias, international NGOs, charities, agencies such as UNHCR and second-country ‘host’ populations and governments, and that these may conflict and/or converge with the status-labelling spaces of third country resettlement. We therefore welcome contributions which examine the production, negotiation and contestation of racialized reception relevant to ‘displacement’ and/or ‘resettlement’.

Issues and concerns to be considered in this special issue might include (but are not limited to):

- Nationalism, immigration and racialized belonging

- Racialized securitization

- Racialized crisis: Refugee crisis or nation-state crisis?

- War on Terror, islamophobia and anti-immigration

- The carceral state

- Border walls and American Greatness

- Canadian multiculturalism

- Fortress Europe

- The colonizer and the colonized

- Reception contexts of the ‘Global South’ and ‘Global East’

- Imperial interventions, infrastructures and racialized refugee production

- Villanization and victimization

- Subjects of Force: War, violence and conflict constructs

- ‘Welfare’ states and ‘asylum cheats’

- Trauma narratives: Medicalization and psychologization

- The role of ‘meaning-makers’in racialized label production (e.g. media, politicians, NGOs, international institutions, social media participants,etc.)

- Racialized label contestation, subversion, inversion, resistances

- The racialized ‘refugee industry’

- Power, hegemony and the racialized construction of law

- The language politics of racialized representation

Submission deadline: 1 March 2018

Please carefully read the author guidelines prior to submission.

Papers will first undergo an editorial review, followed by a double blind peer review. Expected publication date: early 2019.