Constructing “Worthiness” and Resistance to Resettlement of Syrian Refugees

I was asked last November to write an essay on immigrants and social movements for the blog “Mobilizing Ideas“, which is run by the Center for the Study of Social Movements at Notre Dame University. It is a great center, and among their faculty affiliates includes Rory McVeigh, who edits (along with Omar Lizardo and Sarah Mustillo) the American Sociological Review, my discipline’s flagship journal.

I haven’t had much time to write anything else for this blog, but I’m happy to reblog what I wrote for Mobilizing Ideas.

Mobilizing Ideas

By Stephanie J. Nawyn

Anti-Islamic rhetoric in the U.S. has been a continuing and growing problem since September 11, 2001. The marked rise in anti-Islamic rhetoric that followed the ISIS/Daesh attacks in Paris in November 2015 coincided with an increase in the resettlement of refugees fleeing the war in Syria. Following the violence in Paris, resistance developed in resettlement countries to receiving Syrian refugees. In the U.S. that resistance ranged from concerned questioning of the security checks used to screen refugees all the way to hateful, vitriolic claims that most of the refugees were terrorists, with demands to bar any Muslim refugee from entering the U.S.

Those of us familiar with the refugee resettlement system in the U.S., especially people with an interest in using resettlement as a source of protection for Syrian refugees, are now grappling with the best ways to respond to anti-Syrian refugee discourse. This is a…

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