Relations internationales



C21(b) - Refugees and Migration

Date: Jun 14 | Heure: 03:30pm to 05:00pm | Salle:

Chair/Président/Présidente : James FitzGerald (York University)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : James FitzGerald (York University)

Institutionalizing a New Hybrid Organizational Form? The UN Network on Migration and the Global Compact for Migration: Younes Ahouga (Toronto Metropolitan University)
Abstract: The implementation of the Global Compact for Migration entails creating a new hybrid organizational form which combines the convening of communication episodes with the drafting of texts and the design of governmental technologies. However, the open-ended character of the compact’s implementation begs the question of the durability of this hybrid organizational form. Drawing on insights from organization studies, this paper examines the institutionalization process of the hybrid organizational form. This process hinges on the institutional work of the UN Network on Migration which consists of discursive practices of problematization, theorization and legitimation. To ensure that the hybrid organizational form becomes taken for granted, these practices must tackle three sources of complexity arising from the institutional environment, the hybrid organizational form itself and the degree of legitimacy of the UN Network on Migration. The paper assesses the institutional work of the UN Network on Migration through a discursive analysis of the events, texts, and governmental technologies entailed by the implementation of the compact.


Racial Aphasia, Colonial Unknowing and Hierarchy in the Global Governance of Refugees: Megan Bradley (McGill University)
Abstract: International organizations play vital roles in the global governance of refugees, with UNHCR spearheading assistance and protection for refugees worldwide. Yet UNHCR is part of a larger constellation of international organizations—past and present—created by states to govern displacement, including the International Refugee Organization, the International Organization for Migration, and UNRWA. Drawing on extensive archival research, this article deploys the concepts of racial aphasia and colonial unknowing to retheorize international organizations’ roles in the global governance of refugees. In particular, I examine how refugee populations and the international organizations representing them have been hierarchically stratified, reflecting and further entrenching patterns of racialized inequality and colonial domination. The concepts of racial aphasia (difficulty speaking openly about race) and colonial unknowing (actively sustained ignorance of the historical and contemporary entanglements of colonialism and racism) provide vital lenses for investigating the persistence of these hierarchies. While UNHCR—originally mandated to support select European refugees—has ascended to the alpha position in global refugee governance, international organizations focused on non-white refugees have been relegated to lower rungs of the ladder or shuttered and shunted to the margins of history. I explore this dynamic through in-depth analysis of the United Nations Korean Reconstruction Agency.


“Their hearts are many places:” How surviving separation shapes refugee social integration in Canada: Jess Howsam (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Abstract: How does separation from loved ones shape refugees’ efforts to rebuild their lives and form relationships with hosts after resettlement? Separation is an unfortunate and defining feature of refugee resettlement. Only a small percentage of people gain access to protection through resettlement, and relations are often divided across contexts, leaving many in unsafe conditions. Extant research in transnationalism demonstrates the significance of cross-border connections—for remittances, political activism, and motivations for future migration. Less is known, however, about quotidian experiences of living with separation from loved ones, and the political and social import of these realities. This article centers refugee newcomers’ perspectives on surviving separation, allowing for the retheorization of navigating cross-border connections as a metaphysical process with clear implications for social integration. I draw on participant-observation, as well as semi-structured interviews and focus groups with refugee newcomers, private sponsors of refugees, and migration professionals in Canada. In light of these original data, I contend that surviving separation complicates resettlement in Canada, as newcomers navigate contrasting and power-mediated registers of time and space. For instance, newcomers must square meeting unsafe relations’ needs and day-to-day survival with pressures to shift to future orientation and long-term planning in Canada. I suggest further that this largely unseen labour of surviving separation shapes relationships between newcomers and Canadians who do not share refugee newcomer backgrounds: It generates miscommunications and ruptures in trust, as well as unique opportunities for strengthened relationships when separation is recognized. By theorizing newcomers’ everyday strategies for surviving separation, this paper makes three main contributions: First, it values a form of underappreciated labour newcomers engage in and attends to the ways in which this labour destabilizes dominant integration models’ state-centrism and linearity. Second, it provides novel insight into a source of both strain and strength in the private sponsorship of refugees program, which relies on (experienced) volunteer support for success and sustainability. Third, by bridging sociological, psychological, and political science literatures, it provides unique insight into a previously under-theorized consequence of transnational ties.


The deportation bus; or, border politics after Walter Benjamin: William Walters (Carleton University)
Abstract: This paper conducts a conversation between materialist perspectives in international political sociology (IPS) and certain methods inspired by Walter Benjamin, especially his unfinished Arcades Project. Given his commitment to understanding social and historical change by thinking through everyday objects and artefacts, and thus his resonance with ‘new materialist’ currents, the marginality of Benjamin to IPS debates is perplexing. A conversation with this thinker is therefore timely. In the spirit of Benjamin the paper is not a treatise on high theory. Instead, it intervenes in debates about migration, deportation and border politics through a focus on one particular object: the buses which police and security officials use to shuttle detainees from detention centres to the airports from where they are deported. Rarely noticed as an element of border infrastructure, what secrets might a study of these deportation buses offer up? What can we learn about border politics from the way activists have made these buses a target for blockades, or the artist’s move to forge a dialectical image out of the bus? What does it mean that these buses are now a focus of human-rights inspection and investigative journalism? As such the paper will both read bordering at the level of the bus and demonstrate the potential of Benjaminian methods for IPS.