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Managing Displacement

Refugees and the Politics of Humanitarianism

2000
Author:

Jennifer Hyndman

Managing Displacement

An insider’s analysis of worldwide refugee operations.

In this analysis of how refugee relief services work in places such as Kenya and Somalia, Hyndman uses unique insider knowledge both to challenge the political and cultural assumptions of current humanitarian practices and to expose the distancing strategies that characterize present operations.

Managing Displacement is an excellent contribution to the existing literature on refugees. It analyzes the different aspects of the geography of refugees' dislocation in a new and promising light. It also illuminates effectively the gender difference in the refugee experience, and it provides a solid and well-supported critique of the UNHCR.

Tamar Mayer, Middlebury College

Media images of people whose lives are destroyed by international and civil conflicts have long engaged our imaginations and emotions. But what happens to these refugees after displacement, and who takes on the responsibility of reconstructing shattered lives? Since the end of the Cold War, patterns of refugee management have changed dramatically, as states look to avoid the legal obligations and costs of asylum. Working for humanitarian agencies in Kenya and Somalia, Jennifer Hyndman determined that in spite of their best efforts, too often the camps in which these agencies operate can offer only a short-term palliative. In Managing Displacement, Hyndman uses unique insider knowledge both to challenge the political and cultural assumptions of current humanitarian practices and to expose the distancing strategies that characterize present operations.

Managing Displacement looks specifically at the powerful organizations that serve refugees-particularly the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Hyndman provides a close reading of humanitarianism on the ground as she examines the policies and practices of the organization at various levels. She offers constructive criticism of organizations like UNHCR, discerning patterns of "ordering disorder" and "disciplining displacement" in their responses to emergencies.


Managing Displacement

Jennifer Hyndman is assistant professor of geography at Arizona State University, West Campus.

Managing Displacement

Managing Displacement is an excellent contribution to the existing literature on refugees. It analyzes the different aspects of the geography of refugees' dislocation in a new and promising light. It also illuminates effectively the gender difference in the refugee experience, and it provides a solid and well-supported critique of the UNHCR.

Tamar Mayer, Middlebury College

Managing Displacement warrants strong praise and a wide readership. The span of its contributions is impressive. Hyndman’s work lies at the cutting edge of refugee studies, transnational work, feminist studies, political geography, and the new humanitarianism. She both relates, and speaks to, each of these fields of study. Her combined experiences as a relief worker, a field officer, and a researcher bring depth and credibility to the analysis. They supply conceptual notions with traction, keeping a considerable amount of theoretical reflection from becoming hollow. This book is well written throughout. And readers will appreciate the reflective care with which Hyndman moves through analysis, problematizing, for example, ‘the field’ and positionality associate with research. The trajectory of her gaze carries the reader forward to the future. This outlook-toward a horizon with shrunken states and expanded transnationalism-infuses the book with vigor and interest. From the perspective of a geographer who is especially familiar with the refugee literature, Hyndman must be considered the most significant new contributor in the last 5 years.

Johnathan Bascom, Gender, Place and Culture

Jennifer Hyndman’s range puts her text about the contradictory politics of Somalian refugees and their United Nations High Commission for Refugees and NGO ‘managers’ in Kenya into the domain of books with global reach.

Development and Change

Managing Displacement

Contents

Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations

Introduction

1.Scripting Humanitarianism: A Geography of “Refugee” and the Respatialization of Response
2.Border Crossings: The Politics of Mobility
3.Managing Difference: Gender and Culture in Humanitarian Emergencies
4.In the Field: Camps, Compounds, and Other Spaces
5.Ordering Disorder: Sitreps, Headcounts and Other Instruments
6.Crossing Borders in Theory and Practice
7.Beyond the Status Quo

Notes
Bibliography
Index