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A booklist for World Refugee Day

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World Refugee Day, Verso Books, booklist, Kate Evans, Christine Delphy, Hsiao-Hung Pai The refugee crisis may have slipped from the media spotlight this year, but it has not disappeared.

World Refugee Day – 20 June – is an international day dedicated to raising awareness about the 22.5 million people around the world who have fled their homes due to famine, violence and persecution.

The UN Refugee Agency reports that 20 people are forcibly displaced every minute.

The greatest displacement crisis since World War Two continues to take thousands of lives: the number migrants dying on their attempts to cross the Mediterranean and get to Europe has almost doubled since 2016, and a record number died then: since the start of this year, more than 2,000 people have died or been lost at sea while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

Verso Books has put together a reading list of books that challenge and expose right-wing narratives about migrant workers and refugees.

This selection contextualises crises rooted in the violence of capitalism, legacies of colonialism and war waged by the West, racist state narratives, and histories of resistance from which to draw strength and inspiration.

Threads: From the Refugee Crisis, by Kate Evans:

Combining the techniques of eyewitness reportage with the medium of comic-book storytelling, ‘Threads’ is an unforgettable account of Kate Evans’ time volunteering with the refugee aid effort in the Jungle – the makeshift town at the French port town of Calais that was home to thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Africa until it was demolished in October 2016.

By turns shocking, infuriating, wry, and heart-breaking, Threads addresses one of the most pressing issues of modern times to make a compelling case for the compassionate treatment of refugees and the free movement of peoples.

Kate Evans is a cartoonist, artist, and activist. She is the author of numerous books and zines including ‘Red Rosa’ and ‘Funny Weather: Everything You Didn’t Want to Know about Climate Change but Probably Should Find Out’. She was awarded the John C. Laurence Award in 2016.

Scattered Sand: the Story of China’s Rural Migrants, by Hsiao-Hung Pai:

Migration and its struggles are not only about those seeking to cross borders, but, as Hsiao-Hung Pai shows, also affect those desperate for survival within them.

Described by Sukhdev Sandhu as “a worthy successor to ‘A Seventh Man’,” ‘Scattered Sand’ tells the story of the largest migration in human history – the 200 million labourers who travel from China’s rural hinterland to work in factories, construction sites and coal mines.

Based on years of research and field work, this often heart-breaking and moving book tells the human stories of mass migration driven by globalised economy, reminding us that, even if the migrants themselves do not cross borders, the commodities – such as Apple products – they produce do.

Hsiao-Hung Pai is a freelance journalist, whose report on the Morecambe Bay tragedy for the Guardian was made into the film ‘Ghosts’.

Her book on undocumented Chinese immigrants in Britain, ‘Chinese Whispers’, was shortlisted for the Orwell Book Prize in 2009.

Separate and Dominate: Feminism and Racism after the War on Terror, by Christine Delphy:

With Europe’s humanitarian civil society apparently mobilising in solidarity with refugees and migrants, this is a timely reminder of the complex relationship between liberal “humanitarianism” and racial supremacism.

Calling for a true humanitarianism that sacrifices no-one at the expense of others, Delphy exposes the hypocrisy of many euro-centric calls to save the “Other”.

An examination of how mainstream feminism has been mobilised in support of racist measures.

Feminist Christine Delphy co-founded the journal ‘Nouvelles questions féministes’ with Simone de Beauvoir in the 1970s and became one of the most influential figures in French feminism.

Today, Delphy remains a prominent and controversial feminist thinker, a rare public voice denouncing the racist motivations of the French government’s 2011 ban of the Muslim veil.

Castigating humanitarian liberals for demanding the cultural assimilation of the women they are purporting to “save,” Delphy shows how criminalising Islam in the name of feminism is fundamentally paradoxical.

‘Separate and Dominate’ is Delphy’s manifesto, lambasting liberal hypocrisy and calling for a fluid understanding of political identity that does not place different political struggles in a false opposition.

She dismantles the absurd claim that Afghanistan was invaded to save women, and that homosexuals and immigrants alike should reserve their self-expression for private settings.

And she calls for a true universalism that sacrifices no one at the expense of others.

In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, her arguments appear more prescient and pressing than ever.

The other books on Verso’s list are: Lavil: Life, Love, and Death in Port-au-Prince edited by Evan Lyon and Peter Orner; Ten Myths About Israel by Ilan Pappe; A History of Violence: Living and Dying in Central America by Óscar Martínez; Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move by Reece Jones ; Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism by L. A. Kauffman; The Verso Book of Dissent: Revolutionary Words from Three Millennia of Rebellion and Resistance, edited by Andrew Hsiao and Audrea Lim with a preface by Tariq Ali; The Muslims Are Coming!: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror by Arun Kundnani; A Seventh Man by John Berger; Border Vigils by Jeremy Harding; Syrian Notebooks: Inside the Homs Uprising by Jonathan Littell; Bloody Nasty People: The Rise of Britain’s Far Right by Daniel Trilling; The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution by Patrick Cockburn; The Age of Jihad: Islamic State and the Great War for the Middle East by Patrick Cockburn; The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging the Narcos on the Migrant Trail by Óscar Martínez; and For Another Europe: A Class Analysis of European Economic Integration by Guglielmo Carchedi.

  1. Shiela says:

    How many of these titles are giving a percentage of the monies raised from sales back to the causes they’re championing (profiting from)?

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