University of Cambridge > > Borders, Colonialism and Migration Study Group > Outsourcing Asylum and Border Enforcement in the Asia-Pacific: The Experiences of the Republic of Nauru

Outsourcing Asylum and Border Enforcement in the Asia-Pacific: The Experiences of the Republic of Nauru

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Danai Avgeri.

In recent years, countries in the Global North have moved towards outsourcing asylum and border enforcement to frontier territories and regions in the Global South. Drawing on fieldwork in the Republic of Nauru, the world’s smallest island nation, Julia Morris discusses the realities of the island’s offshore asylum arrangement with Australia and its impact on islanders, workforces, and migrant populations. She explores how this extractive industry is peopled by an ever-shifting cast of refugee lawyers, social workers, clinicians, policy makers, and academics globally and how the very structures of Nauru’s colonial phosphate industry and the legacy of the “phosphateer” era made it easy for a new human extractive sector to take root on the island. By detailing the making of and social life of Nauru’s asylum system, Morris shows the institutional fabric, discourses, and rhetoric that inform the governance of migration around the world. As similar practices of offshoring and outsourcing asylum have become popular globally, they are enabled by the mobile labor and expertise of transnational refugee industry workers who carry out the necessary daily operations. Morris illuminates how refugee rights activism and #RefugeesWelcome-style movements are caught up in the hardening of border enforcement operations worldwide, calling for freedom of movement that goes beyond adjudicating hierarchies of suffering.

In this talk, Julia Morris will present part of her recent book Asylum and Extraction in the Republic of Nauru, just published by Cornell University Press. The pesentation will be followed by commentary from Dr Tugba Basaran (Institute of Criminology, Director of the Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement) and Dr Danai Avgeri (Department of Geography) and discussion with the audience.

Dr Julia Caroline Morris is an Assistant Professor of International Studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She holds a doctoral degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on forced migration, borders, and the environment, drawing from ethnographic fieldwork in the Republic of Nauru, Australia, Geneva, and Fiji to research projects in Guatemala, Jordan, and Lebanon. Her work looks at the political economy of migration, including the forms of financial and geopolitical value that revolve around the commodification of human mobility. She has published widely including in Political Geography, Journal of Refugee Studies, Forced Migration Review, Global Networks, The Extractive Industries and Society, and with Routledge publication house on immigration and border control and global knowledge networks.

This talk is part of the Borders, Colonialism and Migration Study Group series.

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