New book by Robin Cohen, Nicholas Van Hear sets out proposal for transnational polity for refugees

17 January, 2020

A new book by Professors Robin Cohen and Nicholas Van Hear sets out their proposal for a radical new solution to the problems arising from mass displacement – ‘Refugia’ a new, networked, transnational archipelago created by and for refugees.

This unusual book combines social science fiction, utopianism, pragmatism, sober analysis, and innovative social theory.

‘We all know the problem. There are more and more people being displaced by war, political conflict and climate change, yet there is an increasing reluctance to settle them in safe countries,’ Professor Cohen said.

‘Nicholas Van Hear and I have crafted an original response to this dilemma using unconventional theoretical starting points – including utopianism, archipelagic thinking, and new ideas of social ecotones and a mobile commons. At the centre of it all is a dispersed transnational polity brought into being by and for refugees and displaced persons’.

Early versions of the Refugia idea sparked some controversy – it was denounced or met with scepticism by many established refugee scholars, while others were intrigued.

‘The book draws together ideas that we have been developing over the last four years about a new kind of transnational polity that might emerge against the background of seemingly unrelenting mass displacement’, Professor Van Hear said. ‘In the volume, we try to address some of the critiques received as we have floated the idea of Refugia in a variety of venues, in our bid to look beyond conventional solutions. Our aim is to initiate an openly pro-refugee vision that all can shape – refugees, scholars, students, practitioners, the media, and the wider public’.

Robin Cohen is Emeritus Professor of Development Studies at ODID. Nicholas Van Hear is Senior Researcher at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at Oxford.

The book will be launched on 27 February 2020 in Oxford. More details to follow.

Robin Cohen and Nicholas Van Hear (2019) Refugia: Radical Solutions to Mass Displacement, Routledge.