Rethinking refuge in the time of COVID-19

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COVID-19 has profoundly impeded the global movement of people. Two key questions, however, remain unclear. Firstly, what are the possible medium and long-term implications of recent developments and, secondly, do they mark a departure from the existing approaches in state practices toward displaced migration? Using examples limited to Europe, we argue that the first question cannot yet be fully answered but a better understanding can be achieved by considering recent trends. The second question, we maintain, is no easier to gauge but should be facilitated by utilizing conceptual material to theorize current and infolding developments, and specifically to consider which repertoires appear especially suited as these unfold. Two literatures, one drawn from the discussion of displaced migration and the “disease” metaphor, and the other from thinking about asylum and the “racial state”, are brought together not to assert any definitive conclusion, but in order to help re-think contemporary developments.




Meer, N., Hill, E., Peace, T., & Villegas, L. (2021). Rethinking refuge in the time of COVID-19. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 44(5), 864–876.

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