Foucault on refugee crisis

1 October 2015 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Interesting forecast of Michel Foucault in 1979 about refugees:

“Q. The refugee issue has come up many times in the past, but if there is a new historical aspect in the case of Vietnam, what might that be?  

A. In the twentieth century, genocides and ethnic persecutions happened frequently. I think that in the near future, these phenomena will happen again in new forms. First, because over the past few years, the number of dictatorial states has increased rather than diminished. Since political expression is impossible in their country and because they do not have the force necessary to resist, people repressed by dictatorship will chose to escape from their hell.

Second, in former colonies, states were created retained colonial borders as they were, so that ethnicities, languages and religions were mixed. This phenomenon creates serious tensions. In those countries, antagonisms within the population are likely to explode and bring about massive displacement and the collapse of state apparatuses.

Third, developed economic powers that needed labour from the Third World and developing countries have imported migrants from Portugal, Algeria or Africa. But, now, countries which no longer need this workforce because of technological evolution are attempting to send those migrants back. All these problems lead to that of population migration, involving hundreds of thousands and millions of people. And population migrations necessarily become painful and tragic and are inevitably accompanied by deaths and murders. I am afraid that what is happening in Vietnam is not only an after-effect of the past, but also a foreshadowing of the future.”

See for the citation: http://progressivegeographies.com/2015/09/29/michel-foucault-on-refugees-a-previously-untranslated-interview-from-1979/

About Wibo van Rossum

assistent professor at legal theory Utrecht University School of Law

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