American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting
Washington, D.C., November 29 – December 3, 2017
In-Between States: New Refugee Movements and State Responses
The current U.S. administration’s attempts to block refugee flows to the U.S., as well as anti-refugee sentiment and immigration restrictions in other receiving countries, points to recent shifts toward rejecting refugees and the claims of asylum-seekers by states supposedly expected to be able to absorb such flows and to follow international guidelines to recognize refugees arriving at their door. We are witnessing a moment when the international asylum regime is being challenged and resisted, which has resulted in new and unexpected migratory flows and social consequences.
“Traditional” countries of resettlement are turning to other countries of refuge, offshore processing centers, and other solutions to prevent the arrival of refugees or delay permanent resettlement. Linked to this is the recent observation of refugee/asylee flows toward less expected destinations, their liminal permanence in transit and in-between states, as well as questions about how those unexpected states are handling new influxes. European states and the U.S. have responded to the Syrian refugee crisis with immigration restrictions in a climate of intense xenophobia. Mexico and Costa Rica have become the hosts of significant numbers of Haitians, West Africans, and “Northern Triangle” Central Americans. These groups, among others, encounter heightened border enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border and at borders further south, making it more difficult to reach the U.S. Further, the U.S. is now looking to Central American countries to create mechanisms for identifying and vetting asylum-seekers in place, including a Transfer Protection Agreement with Costa Rica. Globally, refugees and asylum-seekers can be found taking extreme risks or waiting indefinitely to cross international borders, in detention en masse, and settling in unexpected places.
Building on scholarship on refugee policy and the proliferation of precarious statuses, this panel seeks papers that examine the theoretical, political, and social implications of these shifts. We invite papers that address human rights consequences of deporting or denying entry to those fleeing violence and persecution; the political and social responses of states where asylum seekers are unexpectedly arriving; and ethnographic examinations of the situation of refugees caught in limbo or found in new places. What happens when countries of transit become de facto countries of settlement? When temporary arrangements become permanent or extend indefinitely? What role can anthropology play in the examination of the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers caught in these in-between states?
Please e-mail proposed paper titles and abstracts (max. 250 words) to the organizers listed above by 5:00 pm, April 7th. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by April 9th.