HOW GLOBAL HUMANITARIANISM TURNS REFUGEES INTO CHEAP LABOR
Historian Laura Robson unveils the dark heart of our purportedly humanitarian international regime. Tracing the century-long history of attempts to remake refugees into disposable migrant labor, Robson elucidates global humanitarianism’s deep-seated commitment to refugee exploitation and containment.
Surveying more than a hundred years of policy across the globe, Robson captures the travails of Balkan refugees in the late Ottoman Empire, Roosevelt’s secret plans to use German Jewish refugees as laborers in Latin America, and contemporary European efforts to deploy Syrians as low-wage workers in remote regions of Jordan.
The advent of internationalist refugee aid has long been told as an inspirational story in which reformers fought tirelessly for a system that would recognize and guarantee the rights of displaced and dispossessed people. But as Robson demonstrates, the motives behind modern refugee policy can be mercenary. Refugees have become easy prey for global industrial capitalism.