At the dawn of the 20th Century, Elisée Reclus (1905) characterised the western world by its fervent nationalism, tightening borders and widespread mockery of humanitarianism. Current political discourse on forced migration and its physical manifestations, however, suggest that Reclus’ (1905) observations may be more relevant now than ever before. Militarisation and technologization of borders, an emergence of migrant slums in otherwise wealthy nations, and a reluctance to recognize the forcefully displaced as ‘refugees’ are all attestations of this. All the while, with environmental displacement being its newest chapter, forced migration has no end in sight. In 2015, the number of displaced persons due to environmental reasons surpassed the number of those displaced due to conflict. The international community, however, has been reluctant to formally acknowledge a new classification of ‘environmental refugee’. A perspective anchored in political ecology helps to understand this, as there is strong overlap between the resistance to adequately recognize displacement due to environmental stresses and a largely denialist neoliberal discourse surrounding issues such as climate change, environmental decay, and resource depletion. In a time where there is an increasing demand for States to manage conflict, crises and disasters that they themselves are responsible in producing, a key tenet of Beck’s (1992) ‘reflexive modernization’, it seems unlikely that this paradox can produce a sustainable solution for the environmentally displaced. Yet, in rejecting catastrophic fatalism, anarchist political ecology provides insight on where to go from here. As resources become increasingly scarce and environmental risks greater, Reclus’ (1905) vision for an ‘era of mutual aid’, largely defined by a transgression and eventual disappearance of borders becomes all the more relevant within the context of environmental displacement. As Reclus (1905), the emergence of this sense of ‘human unity’ would prevent societies from final ruin, as experienced during earlier stages of human civilization.
Parent, Nicolas. 2022. “Moving beyond borders: Anarchist political ecology and environmental displacement.” In J. Mateer, S. Springer, M. Locret-Collet, and M. Acker, Energies Beyond the State: Anarchist Political Ecology and the Liberation of Nature, 45-66. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
This article presents data on peace agreement commitments towards forced migrants on the African continent (excluding MENA) from 1990 to 2018, resulting from the analysis of 177 peace agreements responding to the search queries ‘Africa (excl. MENA)’ and ‘refugees and displaced persons’ on the Peace Agreement Database (PA-X). This article presents preliminary results from four thematic categories: (1) return, reconstruction, rehabilitation, reintegration, and resettlement (5R), (2) provision commitments, (3) rights and law, and (4) land and property. Initial probing and statistical testing of the data revealed several trends. Notably, most 5R commitments were made towards the return of forced migrants. From twelve provision variables, physical protection was the most common provision commitment, followed by relief support. Where commitments to laws and rights related to forced migration remained relatively low, these results suggest that peace agreements in this region seldom take a rights-based approach to displacement. Commitments to land and property compensation and restitution were also marginal, confirming that these issues remain occluded within the realms of conflict termination and the transition towards peace. A brief discussion of these results is followed by an outlook of future research pathways.
Parent, Nicolas. In Press, 2021. Commitments to forced migrants in African peace agreements, 1990–2018. The International Journal of Human Rights.
The article is available here. The data that support the findings of this study are openly available through Harvard Dataverse.
In April 2018, a catamaran captained by two Brazilian smugglers left São Vicente, Cape Verde, setting its course across the Atlantic Ocean, towards the coast of Brazil. Twenty-five West African men were on board. They were all leaving their home countries, going on this risky journey to take their chances for a better life on a new continent.
This article explores the use of religious coping as a way to deal with stress, anxiety and fear, especially during extreme, high-risk migration journeys. This write-up is based on empirical research published in Mental Health, Religion & Culture.
The article is published (04.11.2021) through The Conversation. It can be read here.
Every year, the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS/ACERMF) hosts a student essay contest. This contest includes two submission categories: (1) undergraduate; (2) graduate/law. Essays must be based on empirical work. For 2021, my essay was ranked 1st place in the graduate/law category. ‘Mutual aid amongst refugees: Organized abandonment and anarchic places’ is based on fieldwork conducted in Turkey and Peru between 2015-2019.
The state’s central role in creating the precarious conditions of incarceration, uncertainty, marginalization, and informality is best described as ‘organized abandonment’ (Gilmore 2007). Based on fieldwork in Turkey and Peru, this article shows how some refugees have responded to difficult material and existential conditions by creating anarchic geographic places of meaning. Where subjectivities and practices converge upon egalitarianism, autonomy, and cooperation, the ethnographic cases of refugee placemaking presented are explored through the concept of mutual aid. The observations are evocative, asking us to reflect on how reformulations of space and place as a result of organized abandonment intersect with refugee collectivities and futurities that are beyond the state.
The full essay can be read here. For a summary, CARFMS/ACERMF asked me to write a blog post, available here.
During the Winter 2021 term, thirteen graduate students at the Department of Geography, McGill University, organized and participated in an informal reading group to explore topics related to race, racism, and racialization from a critical geographies perspective. This initiative was the outcome of a lack in graduate level courses exploring race, social issues, oppression, and resistance offered by the Department of Geography, and from a growing demand for such courses from graduate students who are increasingly aware of the need, importance, and urgency of exploring such themes. The Geography Graduate Society Equity Working Group responded to this by launching the ‘Racial Geographies sub-committee’. This reading group is the outcome of this sub-committee’s work.
Members of this reading group met on a bi-weekly basis, on Thursdays from 10am to noon. In total, reading group members met over 16 contact hours. Each session was organized based on the preferences of the ‘session lead’. This person was in charge of selecting the readings (2-5 articles or book chapters), introducing the session topic, and facilitating session engagements. Sometimes the session lead re-lied on audiovisual material, sometimes not.
For our final report, including the reading group syllabus and postmortem, is available here.