B4 & B5
In and out of Eritrea: returnees, refugees, and renegades

Convenors:
Tricia Redeker-Hepner (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)
Bettina Conrad (University of Hamburg)
Stream:
Environment, development and human rights
Location:
G50
Start time:
12 September, 2006 at 11:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

none

Long abstract:

During Eritrea's long war with Ethiopia (1961-1991) over one million people fled the country. Most of them retained transnational links with the Eritrean liberation fronts through which they contributed political and economic support. Today, however, political repression and rights abuses have precipitated new outflows of migrants despite the government's efforts to repatriate refugees from earlier decades. Many of the new migrants are young people fleeing the exigencies of militarism and the disillusionment of political, economic, and social repression. They now join with earlier exiles to create transnational movements that advocate for human rights and political change in Eritrea. The papers in this panel examine the dialectics between developments in Eritrea and its global diaspora. In particular, these studies focus on the impact of returnees, refugees, and renegades on homeland society, politics, and economy as they navigate their states of settlement and the global environment. Both Eritrea and states of settlement construct "counter-exile_? policies and discourses. In states of settlement, asylum policies and socio-cultural attitudes mitigate against permanent settlement, even as they force Eritreans to articulate legal justification for their departure from Eritrea. Similarly, the Eritrean state rejects the exiles' socio-political interventions, but relies on their economic participation. It also attempts to resettle reluctant returnees from Sudan while limiting the ability of others to leave. The result of these dynamics is a restive exile population that is neither here nor there, and a growing number at home who pine for exile whatever the cost. No space for further papers