Luca Mavelli

Luca Mavelli is senior lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of Kent, UK. His research focuses on biopolitics, neoliberalism, migration, security, and secularism. He is the author of Europe’s Encounter with Islam: The Secular and the Postsecular (Routledge 2012). He has co-edited, with Fabio Petito, The Postsecular in International Relations (2012 Special Issue of the Review of International Studies) and Towards a Postsecular International Politics: New Forms of Community, Identity, and Power (Palgrave, 2014), and, with Erin K. Wilson, The Refugee Crisis and Religion: Secularism, Security and Hospitality in Question (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016). His articles have appeared in the European Journal of International Relations, Review of International Studies, Security Dialogue, Millennium, International Politics, Critical Studies on Terrorism, Journal of Religion in Europe, and Teaching in Higher Education.

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Thursday, December 1st, 2016

The refugee crisis and religion: Beyond physical and conceptual boundaries

refugeecrisis_2dAccording to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), as of the end of 2015, 65.3 million people were displaced globally at a rate of twenty-four persons per minute. This is the largest number on record and is expected to have grown in 2016. Despite the enormity of the situation, responses from Western countries (who host a mere 24 percent of displaced persons in comparison to the 86 percent hosted in countries surrounding conflict zones) have been inadequate, to say the least. Their harsh exclusionary rhetoric has resulted in increasingly hardline immigration policies.

Australia has led the way in this regard, deploying a deterrence-driven model of offshore mandatory indefinite detention, which prevents asylum seekers from ever settling in the country, even if found to be “genuine refugees,” and laws that make family reunion almost impossible. Whilst this approach has been condemned by the UNHCR and multiple human rights organizations, it has been highlighted by numerous policymakers in Europe as a possible model for governing migration on the continent. Despite the notable exceptions of Germany and, to a smaller extent, Italy, European responses to the crisis have privileged exclusionary and securitizing policies, leading many commentators to observe that rather than a refugee crisis, this should be more properly described as a crisis of leadership or a crisis of solidarity.

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