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Refugees

  • By: Jennifer Hyndman
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The concept of a refugee is an inherently geographical one, a barometer of political instability and the embodiment of forced migration. In current usage, the term has two main meanings; one is colloquial and often political, while the other is legal. In the wake of the humanitarian disaster that emerged after Hurricane Katrina hit the southern coast of the United States in August 2005, the media called those Americans huddled on the rooftops of their homes awaiting help and people who had sought shelter in the local sports stadium “refugees.” Many refused the term, saying that they did not want to be racialized as poor, African, or other. Yet others defended the term as appropriate, saying that the Bush administration was neither able nor willing ...

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