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In the past twenty years, over 25 million refugees have returned 'home'. These refugee repatriations are considered by the international community to be the only real means of solving mass refugee crises. Yet despite the importance placed on repatriation--both in principle and practice--there has been very little exploration of the political controversies that have framed refugee return. Several questions remain unresolved: do refugees have a right to refuse return? How can you remake citizenship after exile? Is 'home' a place or a community? How should the liberal principles be balanced against nationalist state order?
The Point of No Return: Rights, Refugees and Repatriation sets out to answer these questions and to examine the fundamental tensions between liberalism and nationalism that repatriation exposes. It makes clear that repatriation cannot be considered as a mere act of border-crossing, a physical moment of 'return'. Instead, repatriation must be recognised to be a complex political process, involving the remaking of a relationship between citizen and state, the recreation of a social contract.
Importantly, The Point of No Return shows that this rebuilding of political community need not actually involve refugees becoming residents in their country of origin. Instead, refugees may rebuild their state-citizen relationship while living as migrants, or holding regional or dual citizenships. In fact, in some settings, 'mobile' repatriation may not just be a possible but a necessary form of post-conflict citizenship. The Point of No Return therefore concludes with the radical claim that repatriation not only can but also sometimes should happen without return.
Katy Long, Lecturer in International Development, London School of Economics
Katy Long is currently a Lecturer in International Development at the London School of Economics. After being awarded her Ph.D. from Cambridge in 2009, she spent time consulting for UNHCR before joining the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford as a post-doctoral researcher. Katy's research focuses on the politics of migration and conflict-affected areas, in particular the gaps in international responses to refugee crises. She is especially interesting in understanding refugees' own self-made solutions to the problems of long-term exile, and the way in which restrictions on freedom of movement contribute to inequality and poverty. Katy is also co-editing The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies.