Refugees may flee their country, but can they escape the confining, defining logic of all the voices that speak for them? As refugees multiply in our troubled world, more and more scholars, studies, and pundits focus on their plight. Most of these attempts, says Nevzat Soguk, start from a model that shares the assumptions manifested in traditional definitions of citizen, nation, and state. Within this hierarchy, he argues, a refugee has no place to go. States and Strangers questions this paradigm, particularly its vision of the territoriality of life.
A radical retheorization of the refugee from a Foucauldian perspective, the book views the international refugee regime not as a simple tertiary response, arising from the practice of states regarding refugee problems, but as itself an aspect of the regimentation of statecraft. The attendant discourse negates the multiplicity of refugee events and experience; by assigning the refugee an identity -- someone without the citizen's grounding within a territorial space -- the state renders him voiceless and deprives him of representation and protection. States and Strangers asks how this happens and how it can be avoided.
Using historical, archival research and interpretive strategies drawn from a genealogical approach, Soguk considers the role of the refugee in the emergence and maintenance of the sovereign territorial state from the late seventeenth century to contemporary times.
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Soguk is assistant professor political science at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
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