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The refugee crisis is one of the greatest humanitarian crisis of our times, displacement on this scale had not occurred since the end of World War Two. The media and politicians tell a story devoid of sympathy. This story often absolves the guilt of Western states, who have often waged wars in the regions that the migrants flee, or it insists upon the necessity of de-humanising and violent migration services. The books in this selection challenge these narratives, exploring the various dimensions of immigration; probing and revealing the xeno-racism of migration services, celebrating acts of resistance by migrant groups, and telling the stories of re-homed newcomers and their reception.

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Looking to London: Stories of War, Escape and Asylum 

By Cynthia Cockburn

London has been a magnet of migration since its very origin, celebrated as one of the most ethnically diverse capitals in the world.

In this book, renowned feminist activist and scholar, Cynthia Cockburn, takes the reader on a journey through five London boroughs, immersing us in the lives of women refugees who have made it to London to seek safe haven among the city’s Kurdish, Somali, Tamil, Sudanese and Syrian communities, under the watchful eye of the security services.

At a moment when the nationalist, anti-immigrant sentiment expressed in Brexit is being challenged by a warm-hearted ‘refugees welcome’ movement bringing community activists into partnership with London borough councils, this book provides hope, inspiring us to think more deeply about the urgent need to rehome victims of war, who have risked their lives for a chance of survival.

Voices from the ‘Jungle’: Stories from the Calais Refugee Camp

by The Calais Writers

Often referred to as the ‘Jungle’, the former Calais refugee camp in France epitomised for many the violence and uncertainty that refugees in Europe face today. While the plight of refugees has dominated news headlines, the media sound bites frequently ignore the voices of those directly affected.

This book is a shocking but powerful collection of stories from people who lived in the camp – people who travelled to Europe from conflict-torn countries, including Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan and Eritrea, with astounding stories to tell. They reveal their childhood dreams and struggles for education; the wars and persecution that drove them from their homes; their terror and strength during their extraordinary journeys.

The recent demolition of the camp has only made life harder for refugees: this book is a must-read for those seeking to understand the personal and human consequences of this universal world crisis.

A Suitable Enemy: Racism, Migration, and Islamophobia in Europe

by Liz Fekete

In this groundbreaking book, Executive Director of the Institute of Race Relations, Liz Fekete, draws on sixteen years of research to expose the institutionalised racism behind the migration and security policies of Europe.

Fekete explores the ways in which anti-terrorist legislation has been used to evict undesirable migrants, how deportation policies commodify and de-humanise the most vulnerable and how this goes hand in hand with xeno-racism: a distinctive form of racism where migrants who do not assimilate, or who are believed to be incapable of assimilation, are excluded.

With Brexit and its inextricable link to xeno-racism, and the rapidly increasing normalisation of far-right policies, Fekete’s book is a timely reminder of the dangers we face as a result of the institutionalised racism of EU systems.

Borderline Justice:  The Fight for Refugee and Migrant Rights 

by Frances Webber

From pre-arrival to detention and deportation, Borderline Justice explores the exclusionary and inhumane policies that are obstacles to justice for refugees and migrants in the current legal system.

Legal practitioner, Frances Webber, records some of the key legal struggles of the past thirty years, which have sought to preserve the human rights of ‘unpopular minorities’ in particular – and the importance of continuing to fight for those rights both inside and outside the courtroom.

In the current political climate of ruthless scrutinisation of migrants, including highly anticipated supreme court rulings over Trump’s proposed travel ban, Webber’s insider insight into enacting real political change in our current legal system is more pertinent than ever.

Border Watch: Cultures of Immigration, Detention and Control 

By Alexandra Hall

In the mainstream media, detention is a hidden side of border politics, despite its ever- growing international importance as a tool of control and security. In this bold intervention, Alexandra Hall interrogates the inner workings of the immigration system, focusing on the culture of detention centres as offering a window onto society’s broader attitudes towards migrants.

The book also explores relationships between immigrants and officers, including resistance within the system, providing a unique anthropological insight that challenges the way we understand detention.

With activists and campaigners focusing their energies on detention centres today, including ongoing calls to shut down Yarl’s Wood immigration centre for women, this book aids our understanding of the inhumane nature of detention centres and border control trends more broadly.

Solidarity without Borders: Gramscian Perspectives on Migration and Civil Society Alliances

Edited by Óscar García Agustín & Martin Bak Jørgensen

As mobilisations continue to take place across Europe, migrants are often deprived of agency and placed outside of any developments. Solidarity without Borders provides an innovative take on migrants as political actors, grounding its analysis within a Gramscian context.

The book argues for the relevance of Gramsci’s theory of the formation of a transnational counter-hegemonic bloc, exploring his reflections on the Southern question. With case studies of the Gezi Park Protests in Turkey, social movements in Ireland and the Lampedusa in Hamburg, the contributors consider how diverse new migrant political actors, newfound cross-border alliances, and spaces of resistance shape the political dimensions of protest.

As the future of refugees across the world remains characterised by uncertainty, this book enables us to understand how migrants themselves are constructing a new common ground, and how their methods of resistance can develop real political alternatives.

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All books are available from Pluto Press.