CfP: Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers

Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers

Geographies of Refuge: Displacing violence and locating protection

Submission Deadline: 10 October
DateApril 2018
Location: Washington DC
Organizers: Malene Jacobsen, University of Kentucky, and Elisa Pascucci, University of Helsinki.
Abstract of no more than 250 words should be sent to Malene Jacobsen ( and Elisa Pascucci ( by October 10, 2018. Abstract authors will be notified by October 15, 2018.


While Western states are increasingly using geography strategically to limit forced migrants access to sovereign territories where they can make an asylum claim (Mountz 2010), the majority of the world’s refugees live in extended (long-term) exile in the global South (Hyndman and Giles 2017). Scholars across the social sciences have made great efforts to document and map the landscape of refugee governance and protection. Geographers and others have examined the different sites, practices, and processes through which as asylum and refugee governance take place, including refugee camps (Hyndman 2000; Ramadan 2013) and asylum- and detention centers (Darling 2011; Mountz 2011), forced transfers (Gill 2009; Tazzioli and Garelli 2018), the (re)production of refugee categories (Conlon 2010; Gorman 2017) and refugee subjectivity (Häkli et al. 2017), the role trauma and PTSD in resettlement processes of refugees (Loyd et al. 2018), the geopolitics of refugee claimant process (Ashutosh and Mountz 2012) as well as refugees’ claims to rights (Moulin and Nyers 2007) and practices of citizenship (Pascucci 2016).
Importantly, geographers have recently begun to situate these geographies in a much longer history of colonialism and Cold War geopolitics and draw connections between different sites and countries (Mountz 2017; Mountz and Loyd 2018). Illustrating how the conditions for asylum seekers in the United Kingdom (signatory of the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 and Protocol of 1967) are increasingly similar to those in Thailand (a nonsignatory country), Coddington (2018) is challenging the distinctions between refugee protection in developed and developing countries, echoing and expanding  Chimni’s (1998) famous argument about “the myth of difference” in refugee and forced migration studies. Together, this growing body of literature has begun to question the international refugee regime and the liberal democratic states as the providers of refugee protection.
In conversation with this body of work, this session further explores the shifting geographies of refugee migration and refugee protection. We welcome submissions that address the politics, practices, and places of refuge and protection, and potentially challenge our understanding of where refugee protection is located and what it might look like. We are interested in empirically grounded papers that draw on critical perspectives from various disciplines and theoretical lenses (feminist geopolitics, postcolonial studies, critical race studies, and legal geography) to explore the geographies of violence and protection that shape refugees’ lives and subjectivities as well as their access to spaces of peace, rights, and security.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  •  Continuities between war/displacement and refuge/safety
  • Encounters with institutional and everyday racism
  • Refugees’ disrupted transnational intimate lives
  • Economies of protection, aid, and destitution
  • Criminalization of rescue and relief: the end of humanitarian borders?
  • Protracted displacement and the role of development
  • The linkages between humanitarian interventions and development work
  • Deportation, voluntary return, and refugees as potential development actors
  • Intimate and everyday practices of protection and security
  • Refugees, racism and the defense of the nation-state
  • Performing/contesting the figure of the bogus/legitimate refugee
  • Refugees’ accounts of institutions, actors, and politics of refugee protection
  • Precariousness, precarity and refugee subjectivity
  • Critical narratives of refuge literature and art

Ashutosh, Ishan, and Alison Mountz. 2012. “The Geopolitics of Migrant Mobility: Tracing State Relations Through Refugee Claims, Boats, and Discourses.” Geopolitics 17 (2): 335–54.
Chimni, B. S. 1998. “The geopolitics of refugee studies: A view from the South.” Journal of Refugee Studies 11: 350-374.
Coddington, Kate. 2018. “Landscapes of Refugee Protection.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 43 (3): 326–40.
Conlon, Deirdre. 2010. “Ties That Bind: Governmentality, the State, and Asylum in Contemporary Ireland.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 28 (1): 95 – 111.
Darling, Jonathan. 2011. “Domopolitics, Governmentality and the Regulation of Asylum Accommodation.” Political Geography 30 (5): 263–71.
Gill, Nicholas. 2009. “Governmental Mobility: The Power Effects of the Movement of Detained Asylum Seekers around Britain’s Detention Estate.” Political Geography 28 (3): 186–96.
Gorman, Cynthia S. 2017. “Redefining Refugees: Interpretive Control and the Bordering Work of Legal Categorization in U.S. Asylum Law.” Political Geography 58 (May): 36–45.
Häkli, Jouni, Elisa Pascucci, and Kirsi Pauliina Kallio. 2017. “Becoming Refugee in Cairo: The Political in Performativity.” International Political Sociology 11 (2): 185–202.
Hyndman, Jennifer. 2000. Managing Displacement: Refugees and the Politics of Humanitarianism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Hyndman, Jennifer, and Wenona Giles. 2016. Refugees in Extended Exile: Living on the Edge. 1 edition. London ; New York: Routledge.
Loyd, Jenna M., Patricia Ehrkamp, and Anna J. Secor. 2018. “A Geopolitics of Trauma: Refugee Administration and Protracted Uncertainty in Turkey.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 43 (3): 377–389.
Loyd, Jenna M. and Alison Mountz. 2018. Boats, Borders, and Bases: Race, the Cold War, and the Rise of Migration Detention in the United States. Oakland: University of California Press.
Moulin, Carolina and Peter Nyers. 2007. “We live in a country of UNHCR” – Refugee Protests and Global Political Society.” International Political Sociology 1: 356-372.
Mountz, Alison. 2010. Seeking Asylum: Human Smuggling and Bureaucracy at the Border. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
———. 2011. “The Enforcement Archipelago: Detention, Haunting, and Asylum on Islands.” Political Geography 30 (3): 118–28.
———. 2017. “Island Detention: Affective Eruption as Trauma’s Disruption.” Emotion, Space and Society, On trauma, geography, and mobility: Towards geographies of trauma, 24 (Supplement C): 74–82.
Pascucci, Elisa. 2016. “Transnational Disruptions: Materialities and Temporalities of Transnational Citizenship among Somali Refugees in Cairo.” Global Networks 16 (3): 326–43.
Ramadan, Adam. 2013. “Spatialising the Refugee Camp.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 38 (1): 65–77.
Tazzioli, Martina, and Glenda Garelli. 2018. “Containment beyond Detention: The Hotspot System and Disrupted Migration Movements across Europe.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 0(0): 1-19.