In early April 2015, the Israeli government confirmed that it had struck an unusual deal with the government of Rwanda. In return for “millions of dollars in grants and sales,”[i] the central African state would take in asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan currently living in Israel. According to media reports, Uganda is contemplating a similar agreement.[ii]
Between 2006 and 2013, approximately 60,000 asylum seekers, most from Eritrea and Sudan, entered Israel through its southern border with Egypt. Seeking a safe haven, they faced a government that deliberately obstructed possibilities for a more stable and dignified life. Israel’s plan to trade asylum seekers to what it calls “safe third countries” demonstrates that the government is prepared to employ unorthodox means, and incur financial expenses, to rid itself of its asylum-seeking population.
The “third country deal” is only the latest in a series of Israeli policy decisions that have compromised asylum seekers’ lives and well-being over the years. Read more…
Arguing for Alliances: Why Business and Religious Leaders Should Promote Migrant Health Care – Ryan I. Logan
Ryan I. Logan
In June 2013, from a top-floor meeting room at the Indianapolis headquarters of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company, I witnessed an unusual alliance of business leaders and religious leaders who joined to pledge their public support for the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744). In front of reporters, these leaders expressed their support for comprehensive immigration reform to state politicians, the general public, and the grassroots political organization called the Indianapolis Congregation Action Network (IndyCAN). What would it take to develop a similarly powerful alliance between religious and business leaders advocating for the provision of adequate and affordable health care for undocumented migrants?
Members of the grassroots political organization IndyCAN, along with religious leaders of Catholic and Protestant denominations, meet with Congresswoman Susan Brooks (seated at table, left side) at a prayer vigil to request her public support for immigration reform. Photo by Ryan I. Logan. Read more…
From Alienation to Protection: Central American Child Migration – Heide Castañeda, Lauren Heidbrink, and Kristin Yarris
Heide Castañeda, Lauren Heidbrink, and Kristin Yarris
During the summer of 2014, the eyes of the United States – indeed, the world – turned their gaze on the thousands of Central Americans crossing borders to seek refuge and opportunity. This resulted in a range of responses – from solidarity and support to racism and exclusion – and a stalled search for solutions. As three U.S.-based scholars conducting research along these migration routes over the past several years, this summer we were pulled somewhat unexpectedly into public debates about Central American migrant children and U.S. immigration policy. Coming one year after failed efforts towards comprehensive immigration reform in Congress, the issue of unaccompanied minors has complicated popular understandings of the reasons, processes, and meanings of migration. Here, we reflect on the broader context and policy implications of our research. Read more…
Anthropology Afflicting the Comfortable: A Review of Seth Holmes’s “Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies” – Rachel Stonecipher
Having cut my teeth in anthropology while living in the state of Texas, I am accustomed to trying to explain what, exactly, this discipline is. At Thanksgiving, distant family members ask me whether I have anything interesting to tell them about the dinosaurs. When I correct them and confess that I neither dig up artifacts (certainly not T-Rex) nor analyze crime scenes, but rather practice “cultural” anthropology, I watch their shoulders sink and eyes wander away.
Seth Holmes’ book Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies is here to change that, and in the best of directions. In a tight 200 pages, Holmes lays out a call to action for social scientists, practicing physicians, and average readers to identify and combat the structural violence perpetrated against migrant farmworkers. By accompanying his companions as they migrate, work, and seek health care, Holmes sheds light on the “ethnicity-citizenship hierarchy” that shapes the health outcomes of indigenous Triqui migrant workers on a farm in the Skagit Valley of Washington state. His goal is to perform a “critical and reflexively embodied anthropology” that will “confront the ways in which certain classes of people come to be written off or deemed less human” (40-44). The idea of reflexive embodiment is to think about one’s own ways of sensing the world – such as feeling pain, love, or success – in critical comparison to how others sensorially experience. Holmes is on a trail parallel to the recent ethnographic movement, led by Sarah Willen, to interrogate the social inequality (re)produced when undocumented migrants come to embody their abject status. However, as I argue below, his approach is more akin to discourse analysis than Willen’s “critical phenomenology,” though it would be strengthened by more of the latter. Read more…