Transits: Keywords for Critical Refugee Studies

Yến Lê Espiritu
Ethnic Studies
UC San Diego

Khatharya Um
Ethnic Studies
UC Berkeley

As “history’s battered subjects,” refugees have been the subject of volumes of study in sociology, political science, and literature, coming into being in this scholarship as in-between figures that symbolize victimization, resistance, or postmodern interstitiality. Despite the volumes of words that are used to talk about refugees, there is, in fact, a paucity and poverty of language that speaks to the lived experiences, affects, and subjectivities of refugees. Refugees know full well the power of words that can determine whether one lives or dies, what claims one can make, whether one is visible or invisible and how. One of the key challenges in refugee studies is the discursive (mis)representation of refugees and refugee lifeworlds. The critical intervention that we, the Critical Refugee Studies Collective (CRSC), seek to make with our proposed co-authored book project, Transits: Keywords in Critical Refugee Studies, is to reclaim the power of representation through re-storying.