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Civil society, the state, and private sponsorship: the political economy of refugee resettlement

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In the wake of the most recent refugee crisis the private sponsorship programme re-emerged in Canada as a just and novel solution to precarious migration. The private sponsorship programme expands the role of civil society in humanitarian resettlement, while simultaneously depicting the programme as a grassroots movement of engaged and active citizens. My purpose in this article is to materially and historically situate the ideological conditions that coordinate refugee migrations, with a particular focus on private sponsorship and neoliberal ideology. I argue that while private sponsorship may appear as a humanitarian solution to precarious migration, it simultaneously furthers the deeply political project of privatising immigrant welfare, localising consciousness, and depoliticising the experiences of refugee youth. Privately sponsored refugees encounter the same forms of deskilling and downward mobility as racialised newcomers. At the very same time, however, the private sponsorship programme deploys a narrative of grassroots community action to conceal the ways in which Canada is a racially divided economy and society.
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Keywords: Ideology; political economy of resettlement; privately sponsored refugees (PSRs) ;refugee migration; refugee youth

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: LHAE, OISE/UT, Toronto, Canada

Publication date: November 2, 2018

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