Welcoming Refugees: Mindful Citizenship and the Political Responsibility of Hospitality
In this article I use the refugee crisis in Syria to open up broader questions of political responsibility for refugees. Drawing on the work of Iris Marion Young, I argue that refugees suffer structural injustice in the international states system, which is organized according to principles of internal and external sovereignty; international society, organized by the social relationships, norms, and practices between states and other actors; and the global political economy, because these structures constrict refugees' ability to develop and exercise their capacities while enabling relatively privileged states and their citizens and residents to enhance theirs. The implication of privileged actors in structural injustice comes about through such everyday activities that it tends to be invisible. Crises like the one in Syria expose the structures and processes that sustain the structural injustice that refugees suffer. I argue that relatively privileged states, and their citizens and legal residents in particular, bear a political responsibility of hospitality toward refugees because they benefit from the structures that disadvantage the stateless. But our capacity and willingness to assume this responsibility are sometimes short-circuited by anxieties and resentments about our vulnerabilities to displacement under globalization, which refugees can evoke. The cultivation of mindful citizenship can help us to mitigate these anxieties and resentments and to assume our political responsibility of hospitality.
Schiff, Jade Larissa. 2018. "Welcoming Refugees: Mindful Citizenship and the Political Responsibility of Hospitality." Signs 43(3): 737-762.
University of Chicago Press
Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society