Race, Class and the Making of 'Refugees'

Authors: Prem Kumar Rajaram*, Central European University
Topics: Migration
Keywords: refugees, race, class
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Jackson, Marriott, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Race, class, and the making of ‘refugees’ Scholarship and policy around refugees produce and emphasise their separation from national societies. In particular, the relations that refugees may have to race and class structures in the societies in which they are ‘hosted’ are rarely a part of refugee studies scholarship, much less of policy obsessed with ‘integrating’ these strangers. In order to sustain this separation, particular ways of knowing ‘refugees’ must be made hegemonic. These ways of knowing underpin regimes of governing refugees as separate entities requiring specific intervention aiming at their integration without consideration of their position within race and class structures. The role of the state in successfully martialing this hegemony relies on discourses that emphasise the difference of ‘refugees’. Such narratives make more coherent and strong the connection between a ‘state’ and a desirable public: refugee policy is often a means of state-making. This process must obscure, denigrate or render irrelevant the complex relations that people called refugees have with others. The ways in which refugees are imbricated with race and class hierarchies in specific spaces must be occluded. The commonalities of refugees and citizens before capitalist social relations - in particular how politics, identities and solidarities are struggled for in relation to dominating social structures - must be obscured. I will use relational histories of class formation to investigate how refugees are imbricated in race and class structures along with others in specific spaces. The focus of this study is gentrification in Budapest and one other city.

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