“It Is Not Because They Are Bad People”: Australia’s Refugee Resettlement in Papua New Guinea and Nauru

Date
2020
Authors
Salyer, J C
Dalsgaard, Steffen
West, Paige
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University of Hawai‘i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
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For almost two decades, Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island have been central to the Australian government’s efforts to dispose of unwanted asylum seekers trying to reach Australian shores and to deter future asylum seekers from even attempting to obtain humanitarian protection. This policy, sometimes called the “Pacific Solution,” has created challenges for local Pacific populations and has placed these two Pacific Islands in the center of a geopolitical humanitarian crisis. The rhetoric surrounding the role of Nauru and Manus often positions their contemporary dilemmas within a framework of continued imperialist or neocolonial challenges to their sovereignty by their Australian neighbor. But it also does much more. The essays in this dialogue section interrogate the Pacific Solution and surrounding discourses by exploring the critical circumstances enveloping the two islands, as well as the movement of refugees in the Pacific more generally. This draws attention both to international conflict and to climate change and the resulting environmental calamities in the Pacific region. Other contributions interrogate refugee policy through ethnographic studies of the encounters between refugees and host populations, revealing the pressure felt by local Pacific populations and the responses available to them under the current circumstances. Some of these responses exceed scholarship and demand narrative art (Kaiku; Sparks-Ngenge), while others involve political dynamics that are entangled in responses to climate change (Bino) or in colonial histories (Dalsgaard and Otto; Kanngieser), as well as their logics and legal articulations (Keenan). The responses reveal issues of inclusion/exclusion denoting different sorts of “insiders” but also perspectives that require attention to intimacies and lived experience (Salyer; West).
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Australia, Pacific Solution, refugees, asylum seekers, Manus, Nauru, Oceania -- Periodicals
Citation
Salyer, J. C., Dalsgaard, S., and West, P. 2020. “It Is Not Because They Are Bad People”: Australia’s Refugee Resettlement in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. The Contemporary Pacific 32 (2): 435–448.
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14 p.
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