Address: School of International Relations
City: St Andrews, Scotland - KY16 9AX
Country: United Kingdom
Dr Saunders is an Associate Lecturer in the School of International Relations, at the University of St Andrews. She completed an ESRC-funded PhD at St Andrews in 2015.Dr Saunders' research sits at the intersection of global politics and political theory, focusing on contemporary social and political thought as a framework for analysing pressing global issues. She has a particular interest in issues of forced migration, human rights, and citizenship, and in conceptualisations of, and questions about, political responsibility, social justice, political subjectivity, and 'decolonising' political theory.
Immigration & Citizenship
Race, Ethnicity and Politics
Transnational Civil Disobedience
Strategies Of Resistance
Protests by refugees and asylum seekers have become of increasing interest to scholars of forced migration, citizenship and political theory in recent years for the critical potential inherent in such acts of protest to reconfigure conceptions of ‘the political’, ‘the citizen’, and refugees as voiceless, a-political victims. This article turns to refugee and asylum seeker protest for a different reason. Rather than focusing on the act of protest, this article turns to the substantive content of such protests. Exploring the claims and demands of refugees and asylum seekers in two long-running protest movements, in Austria and Germany, the article argues that the protestors’ demands encompass more than the claim to asylum, and can fruitfully be understood as Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 28 rights claims – claims to a social and international order for the realisation of human rights. The article argues that these claims are not easily addressed by existing approaches to responsibility for forced migration, and turns instead to Iris Marion Young’s conception of political responsibility for structural injustice as a potentially promising framework.
This article argues that enhanced understanding of the inter-war period in the development of the international refugee regime can contribute to current debates on the extent to which current practices of “burden-shifting” – in the form of the externalisation and securitisation of asylum – betray the regime’s humanitarian origins as expressed by the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. It demonstrates, through archival research, that rather than being characterised by the humanitarian wish to relieve the plight of the displaced – a wish which, at times, fell victim to political/ideological manipulation – the development of the refugee regime was instead primarily concerned with burden-limiting, ethnic and racial harmony, and a technocratic approach to the “disposal” of refugees. This article concludes by suggesting that historical investigation of the development of the refugee regime can reveal the ways in which our “solutions” and how we measure their success are inseparable from our understanding of what the problem, and who the refugee, is – and that this understanding is perhaps not as simple as the traditional picture of a humanitarian concern for the protection of the displaced might suggest. It also emphasises the need to recognize the extent to which continued ahistorical reification of the refugee regime can entrench rather than “solve” the refugee problem.
The refugee problem’ is a term that it has become almost impossible to escape. Although used by a wide range of actors involved in work related to forced migration, these actors do not often explain what exactly ‘the problem’ is that they are working to solve, leading to an unfortunate conflation of two quite different ‘problems’: the problems that refugees face and the problems that refugees pose. Beginning from the simple, yet too often overlooked, observation that how one conceives of solving a problem is inseparable from what one understands that problem to be, this study explores the questions raised about how to address ‘the refugee problem’ if we recognise that there may not be just one ‘problem’, and that not all actors involved with the refugee regime conceive of their work as addressing the same ‘problem’. Utilising the work of Michel Foucault, the book first charts how different ‘problems’ lend themselves to particular kinds of solutions, arguing that the international refugee regime is best understood as developed to ‘solve’ the refugee (as) problem, rather than refugees’ problems. Turning to the work of Hannah Arendt, the book then reframes ‘the refugee problem’ from the perspective of the refugee, rather than the state, and investigates the extent to which doing so can open up creative space for rethinking the more traditional solutions to the refugee (as) problem. Cases of refugee protest in Europe, and the burgeoning Sanctuary Movement in the UK, are examined as two sub-state and popular movements which could constitute such creative solutions to a reframed problem.
Contributing to a discussion on the resurgence of interest in the thought of Hannah Arendt. The discussion focused on totalitarianism and refugees.