Journal Article

Displaced citizens and abject living: the categorical discomfort with subjects out of place


This article argues that the political exclusion of displaced people living within states under a variety of humanitarian and policy categories are simultaneously constitutive of mainstream political belonging and social belonging for those excluded. Based on long term research-engagement with displacement in Georgia, Jordan and Sudan, we analyse situations where an initial crisis-based humanitarian status becomes protracted, and in which people are labelled forced migrants as well as citizens, giving rise to tensions with the mainstream but also creating social identities that foster belonging from experiences of exclusion. By analysing these processes as ‘abjection’ – forms of state control and boundary-making that exclude members from the very thing that requires their inclusion – we show that a type of ambiguous citizenship emerges from protracted situations of displacement. Simultaneously, people ‘out of place’ but within a state may exclude themselves from full citizenship rights by nurturing an alternative status derived from their experiences with the state or international humanitarian regime. When established and enduring for a lengthy period, these displacement-statuses, we show here, become social categories and identities through processes of abjection. In conclusion we show how citizenship itself becomes ambiguous through norms of belonging, the formation of new social categories and because forced migrants help to constitute the political.

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Brun, Cathrine

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment\School of Architecture


Year of publication: 2017
Date of RADAR deposit: 2017-08-31

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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