“When Is a Migrant a Refugee?”: Hierarchizing Migrant Life

China Medel, Yuridia Ramírez

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter discusses Central American migrants, articulating the ways in which those who seek refuge in the United States do so as vulnerable subjects who must assert their personhood through legal regimes defined by heteronormative systems dominated by whiteness. As Aihwa Ong shows, the category of the refugee emerges out of post-World War II turns toward global governance and as a direct response to the Holocaust and the Cold War. Migrants from Central America, rarely have been considered “refugees” by the standards established by global powers. The mobilization of asylum claims and refugee status for migrants to the United States has been an important turn in the fight for the right to migrate. Coming amid a global refugee crisis from war- and famine-torn nations in the Middle East, South Asia, and parts of Africa, and amid growing concerns over the future of forced climate migration, it has emerged in solidarity with other sites and forms of violence.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMigration, Identity, and Belonging
Subtitle of host publicationDefining Borders and Boundaries of the Homeland
EditorsMargaret Franz, Kumarini Silva
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780429469374
ISBN (Print)9781138602908
StatePublished - Feb 10 2020
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Cultural and Media Studies


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