Forced Migration: Current Issues and Debates
Edited by Alice Bloch and Giorgia Dona
Abingdon-on-Thames, UK: Routledge, 2018,178 pp.
With contributions by key thinkers in the field, Alice Bloch and Giorgia Dona's slim edited volume tackles some of the most profound shifts in the global context of forced migration today. The book combines a frank assessment of how unsuitable the current legal and humanitarian frameworks are today, with empirical evidence of people's struggles for rights, resources, and belonging in a changing landscape of displacement. Although the editors deliberately avoid offering "solutions" to address the twenty-first-century realities presented here, the questions raised throughout require readers to rethink our reliance on current paradigms that frame the field of practice. Authors give readers the benefit of not only their long experience tussling with the conceptual minefields of terminology and the historical boundaries of the field, but also helpful guidance for where to go next.
Bloch and Dona identify the major challenges, debates, and knowledge gaps in forced migration studies, and organize them along three themes in the introductory chapter: (1) the reconfiguration of borders, (2) the expansion of prolonged exile, and (3) changes in protection and rights. The chapters that follow are divided into two sets, with the first four (Zetter, Banerjee and Sammadar, Voutira, and Hyndman and Giles) providing a theoretical overview that loosely maps onto the book's themes. Zetter sets out a strong analysis of why the field still has not yet settled on a common understanding of what or who comprises our subject matter. His chapter goes well beyond describing tensions between normative concepts such as refugee and descriptive but ambiguous concepts like forced displacement to call for a realignment of our conceptualization itself with the drivers and processes of forced migration. His evaluation points away from the contemporary reconfiguration of borders towards a global order structured by displacements (through armed conflicts, environmental degradation, development projects, and natural disasters) that must be reconceptualized accordingly. Banerjee and Sammadar write more explicitly on bordering and the failure of forced migration studies to include the vast displacements produced by colonial systems and post-colonial disruptions. Their call to widen the scope of the field geographically and historically is taken up by...