Global reality of forced migration made accessible in new book

Fri 30 April, 2021
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A University of Bedfordshire academic has published a book based on three decades of experience and research into the complexities of human displacement, which aims to accessibly aid the knowledge and understanding of global migration for students, policy makers and the general public.

'Introducing Forced Migration' book coverPublished by Routledge, ‘Introducing Forced Migration’ is part of the brand’s Rethinking Development series, and aims to provide a basic understanding, key definitions and concepts of forced migration, as well as signposting readers towards richer understandings of the lives and realities of forced migrants.

The idea behind the book came about after Dr Patricia Hynes identified the need for an accessible book that would provide a clear introduction to the topic of forced migration for her students. After meeting an editor from Routledge at an international migration conference in 2016, the fabric of ‘Introducing Forced Migration’ was born.

Helena Hurd, Editor of Global Development and African Studies books at Routledge, said: “Conferences provide me with the perfect opportunity to engage with academics on new ideas and to source new book projects. A week after the UK voted to leave the European Union, I met Dr Patricia Hynes at one such event and we discussed the challenges within public discourse around migration, especially at a time when tens of thousands of migrants were risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea, hoping to reach Europe. Forced migration in itself was being shown as a European or American ‘problem’, rather than a global reality faced by millions across the world, mostly within the global south.

“The voice of the migrant forced from their home was missing from this story, and the academic literature available at the time often seemed inaccessible to the layperson. Therefore the plans for ‘Introducing Forced Migration’ were born – a book which is informed and comprehensive in its coverage, yet written with a deft hand and with human stories and social justice at its heart. This is the book that we needed back in 2016. It is still the book that we need now, in 2021.”

A Reader in Forced Migration with the University’s School of Applied Social Studies, Dr Hynes has designed this book as a starting point to the complexities of forced migration for readers wishing to understand:

  • International systems for protecting refugees, internally displaced persons and people who are trafficked
  • Categorisations within policy between forced and voluntary migration
  • Containment strategies in regions of origin
  • Critical perspectives of voluntary repatriation
  • The shrinking space for asylum, sanctuary and refuge

Dr Patricia HynesDr Hynes said: “Migration of people across the globe is an enduring theme of human history, be it forced, voluntary or migration with mixed motivations. International migration is also a key dynamic of contemporary globalisation. For some, a defining characteristic of the twenty-first century is that we are living in an ‘age of migration’. The forcible displacement of people is part of this, with people fleeing persecution within and from their countries of origin.

“There is such a heated debate about migration at the moment and very often key facts and figures are manipulated to suit the creation of misguided policies. This books provides key facts, concepts, ideas and theories around the subject and, in doing so, challenges how pejorative labels are used in legal, policy and practice responses. I also included a number of ‘Key Thinker’ boxes throughout the chapters which summarise the work of influential academics, providing readers with further insights and viewpoints into this complex field.”

Significant areas covered in the book include identifying who forced migrants are and what happens to them, where forcibly displaced adults and children are located, why international protection is critical and how migrants manage to recreate their own ‘worlds’ in the face of increasingly restrictive legislation and policy.

Dr Hynes acknowledges that many people from her career helped to influence and shape the pages of her book. She said: “Students within my unit over the past six years have really honed and challenged my thinking on many occasions and I thank them for that. Particular thanks go to those who have experienced displacement themselves and were rightly demanding of why solutions in this field are so sparse, difficult and often seldom take into account the views of people affected by migration. These challenges really shaped and influenced the content of this book and it feels right that this invaluable input is captured for future scholars and students.”

Dr Patricia Hynes presenting at IOM conference (copyright IOM)

Dr Hynes is no stranger to the publishing world, with ‘Introducing Forced Migration’ being the fifth book she has authored during her impactful career. Prior to joining the University of Bedfordshire in 2011, she gained experience hands-on by working as a practitioner in a number of refugee camps across Southeast Asia, where she assisted in processing and transit centres helping Vietnamese, Lao and Khmer refugees bound for resettlement in America, and working with pro-democracy groups along the Thailand-Burma border. These valuable experiences influenced her academic journey and research in the areas of asylum, human trafficking and 'modern day slavery'. She has since worked with UNICEF, the NSPCC and the IOM (International Organization for Migration), and currently advises the UK Home Office in relation to Independent Child Trafficking Guardians.

Emeritus Professor Michael Preston-Shoot, who supervises doctoral Social Studies students at the University of Bedfordshire, conducted a review of Dr Hynes’ latest book. He pinpointed its appeal to social justice and human rights students and practitioners, as well as the book’s underlying message – the need for global political courage and vision to protect displaced people from abuse and exploitation. Roger Zetter, former Director of The Refugee Studies Centre and Emeritus Professor of the University of Oxford, also outlined how ‘Introducing Forced Migration’ provides a comprehensive foundation understanding of forced migration, constituting a valuable resource for scholars, students and informed laypeople.

Available in paperback, hardback and e-book, ‘Introducing Forced Migration’ is available to purchase via, WHSmith, Hive and other book retailers. The book has been dedicated to the memory of Professor Barbara Harrell-Bond – one of the credited ‘Key Thinkers’ and founding Director of The Refugee Studies Centre – whose work is what initially sparked Dr Hynes’ passion to pursue a career in this field. 

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