Let Their People Drown: How EU Politicians Have Become Tragic Actors in a Self-inflicted Migration Drama

image_miniBy Hein de Haas

In recent months, a record number of refugees and migrants have drowned in their attempts to cross the Mediterranean Sea. According to recent UN estimates, in 2014 almost 220,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean, and at least 3,500 died during their journey. Over 30,000 have already made the crossing so far this year, with around1500 reported dead or missing  – more than 50 times greater than at the same point in the previous record year 2014.

And, again, we hear the familiar appeals from European politicians to stop this tragedy by ‘fighting’ or ‘combating’ smuggling (and trafficking) in order to stop the suffering of migrants on the European borders. Although this all may sound very lofty, blaming the smugglers is a convenient scapegoating strategy that conceals politicians’ own responsibility for this humanitarian tragedy. Continue reading

Between Nation-State and Ummah’s Appeal: The Contradictions of Islamism in Contemporary India and Bangladesh

Sociology of citizenshipBy Maidul Islam

Generally, Islamists believe in the Universalist concept of Ummah (Islamic community of believers), a supranational or transnational union. The Islamists’ call for unity of the Ummah is based on the belief that Muslims throughout the world should have a sense of solidarity that cuts across the borders of the nation-state. In this respect, Islamism has justifications to oppose the concept of the nation-state. The Islamist ideologue Maududi (1993) was opposed to the idea of the nation-state, and citizenship based on nationality, considering nationalism to be divisive and as such incompatible with Islam (Maududi 1992). Continue reading

HIP meet resettled refugees in Dallas

The HIP team outside a refugee-owned Ethiopian restaurant in Dallas

The HIP team outside a refugee-owned Ethiopian restaurant in Dallas

By Louise Bloom, Research Officer, Humanitarian Innovation Project, Refugee Studies Centre

It is not often that we think about what life is like for refugees who have been resettled to a new country. Considered to be one of the three durable solutions offered to refugees, resettlement to a country like the US is a goal for many refugees living in the global south. However the ‘American dream’ is not always what it is thought to be.

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Statisticians as Global Change Makers

By John Hammock, Co-Founder and Director of Outreach, Oxford Poverty and Human Development InitiativeJohnHammock-for-web

First, a confession.  When I was 9 years old, I almost had to repeat third grade because I was still doing math by counting on my fingers. And it was the same story later on. Algebra – forget it; calculus – illiterate beyond doing budgets, cash flows and punching a calculator to have it perform magic.  As for statistics, they were avoided at all costs. But I made a virtue out of my limitations—I turned to qualitative research—talking to people, getting their stories.

So, what was a pure non-numbers boy like me doing in the vicinity of an elite meeting of statisticians from all over the world in New York City in March — a meeting of the UN Commission on Statistics? Statisticians live and breathe numbers and equations; clearly I would be bored to tears.

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Afropolitanism: Global Citizenship with African Routes

Sociology of citizenshipBy Alpha Abebe

Diasporas and other transnational communities have become particularly useful case studies for scholars interested in stretching and challenging mainstream conceptions of citizenship. It is now widely accepted that for many people around the world, physical location and formal legal citizenship may not be the most salient forms of social, political or economic affiliation. As the process of globalization continues to expand, more and more people find themselves in one place, while their lives are structured and oriented by connections to one or several other places. Some of these ‘places’ are other nation states, such as an ancestral country of origin. However, many such ‘places’ exist extraterritorially as abstract yet powerful expressions of identity, community, and belonging. Continue reading

Questioning traditional citizenship: memory, identity and collective action in Chile

Sociology of citizenshipBy Simón Escoffier

In this post I contest traditional liberal conceptions of citizenship rooted in the nation-state and consider the role played by memory in the ways in which Santiago de Chile’s disenfranchised produce contentious politics.

I suggest that, by referring to the past in their meetings and conversations, local neighbourhood organisations in Santiago de Chile’s poor settlements (poblaciones) assert a particular, anti-hegemonic interpretation of history. Through stories, historical anecdotes, and different types of memorials, poor residents produce a neighbourhood identity, giving rise to innovative forms of community membership. Continue reading

The Future is Not What It Used to Be

­JF---FutureThe Future is Not What It Used to Be: Climate Change and Energy Scarcity, by ODID Associate Professor Joerg Friedrichs, was published by MIT Press in 2013 and received an honourable mention in the Society of Environmental Journalists’ (www.sej.org) 2014 Rachel Carson Environment Book Award category. SEJ is the world’s largest group of environmental writers and academic researchers who specialise in environmental communications.

Joerg spoke to Tom Henry, who edits the book section of SEJournal, SEJ’s quarterly magazine:

How did you identify the theme of the book and what motivated you to write it?

With all the knowledge around, and with all the arguments made back and forth in the climate controversy, I felt that there was a lack of serious thinking about what it all means for our way of life. True, there are apocalyptic scenarios about environmental mayhem, and others have taken a historical approach before me. But much of that literature is either purely academic or plainly alarmist, and I wanted to provide a sober evaluation of what we can say about future climate transformations based on analytical thinking and historical evidence. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Patronage as Politics in South Asia’ by Anastasia Piliavsky (ed)

Sociology of citizenshipBy Uday Chandra

Patronage, which may be defined as a hierarchical relationship based on mutual obligations, is often regarded today as an unwelcome anachronism. Although this volume resists any single definition, the word ‘patronage’ reminds us of feudal and slave-owning societies of the past, where a few enjoyed the rights of citizenship at the expense of the many. Liberal democracies in our world have no place for patrons or clients, we believe, because universal adult franchise makes everyone legally equal and sovereignty rests with the demos.

Yet modern democratic societies face a peculiar paradox: they must elect representatives who enact laws and make policies even as they maintain the fiction that they are just like us. The paradox of modern democracy has little to do with the level of inequality in society. Neither is it specific to cultural contexts in which democracy appears to be compromised, even distorted, by patron-client relations. Patronage is everywhere, as this refreshing new volume argues, and its workings in India, the world’s most populous democracy, push us to think of citizenship as vertically differentiated or hierarchical. Continue reading

A tale of twos: Two months, two new policies, two parts of the world

By John Hammock, Co-Founder and Director of Outreach, Oxford Poverty and Human Development InitiativeJohnHammock-for-web

What do Ho Chi Minh City and the country of Chile have in common? HCM is a city of 7.84 million people, a bustling metropolis, the economic nerve centre of Vietnam. Chile is a small, middle income country of 18 million on the other side of the globe. Worlds apart in culture, language, political systems, economics—they now share a common approach to dealing with persistent poverty. Both have adopted a new way to measure poverty—giving them the information to transform the way they focus resources to combat the problem.

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‘We are Sierra Leoneans, not Slaves’: Contesting Citizenship in Freetown

Sociology of citizenshipBy Luisa Enria

In the summer of 2013, Freetown’s King Jimmy Bridge collapsed. This was around a decade after the end of Sierra Leone’s civil war, and a year before the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus; needless to say, the resulting deaths seemed barely newsworthy.

But King Jimmy Bridge, and the tunnels that it took down with it, had particular significance to the many young people who make a precarious living in the neighbouring streets’ vibrant informal economy. The tunnels bore the marks of the chains used to imprison the victims of the Atlantic slave trade, as passages to the Ocean they were about to cross. Before King Jimmy Bridge collapsed, the tunnels served as congregation spots for young people, where discussions ensued about their current predicaments and about the plight of the youthman in a country where high rates of youth unemployment have forced a generation into marginal and irregular income-generating activities. Continue reading