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“Making Place”: The “Pacific Solution” and Australian Emplacement in the Pacific and on Refugee Bodies

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In September 2001, Australia effected a “Pacific Solution” to its “refugee problem”: the interception and transfer of “unauthorised boat arrivals” to processing centres in the Pacific Third World. These centres were agreed to by poor countries that were approached precisely because of their vulnerability and dependence upon Australia, in exchange for increases in aid. Australia thereby created a regional refugee problem and, in so doing, Australian seignorage also demands that the laws of those sovereign countries be placed in stasis so that people not convicted of a crime may be detained indefinitely. The Pacific region, in effect, came to be mapped in terms of its utility to Australia, both downplaying and concealing complex economic, social and political issues. This essay studies the Pacific Solution as a means of Australian "emplacement" in the Pacific and on refugee identity/bodies. Both refugee identity and the Pacific Third World are assessed in terms of their utility in serving as sites for Australian emplacement, whereby and wherein the borders of Australia are reinforced, to the detriment of extant “local” emplacements.
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Keywords: Australia; Pacific Solution; Tampa; refugees; sovereignty; territory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: National University of Singapore

Publication date: 2003-11-01

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