monograph
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Book in Progress

Perilous Telling:

Story in the Shadow of the Refugee Regime

Mai-Linh K. Hong

Perilous Telling: Story in the Shadow of the Refugee Regime demonstrates how story and storytelling sustain the refugee regime, the global legal-administrative apparatus governing refugee mobility and refugee aid. It also reveals how refugees use story to survive, navigate, and challenge the refugee regime. Taking a multidisciplinary approach, I build on Spivak's foundational question for postcolonial studies, "Can the subaltern speak?": I ask, "How do refugees speak in a world already populated with stories about them?" "Perilous telling" names the everyday intellectual work that refugees perform during forced migration and resettlement: strategic listening, information synthesis, and narrative-making born of necessity and fierce resourcefulness. The book highlights the conceptual and rhetorical moves made by refugee writers/artists to navigate the refugee regime, and in doing so elucidates the social and political worlds that refugees and non-refugees coinhabit. Advancing the field of critical refugee studies, this book firmly dislodges “humanitarian aid” as the prevailing paradigm for understanding refugee law and places refugee crises and non-aid into a long, ongoing, global history of military imperialism, labor/resource extraction, and racial and gender violence.