Borders and Migration

The problem of the future in the spacetime of resettlement: Iraqi refugees in the U.S.

How do the lost futures of forced displacement converge with the impasse of being resettled to a “post-future” society such as the U.S.? Based on interviews conducted between 2016 and 2019 with resettlement agents, service providers and Iraqis resettled in the U.S., we argue that the condemnation of “expectations” (that is, realistic hope) coupled with the demand for refugees’ gratitude means that Iraqis resettled to the U.S. are asked to sustain a “hope against hope” for the fullness of American futurity, even in the face of its collapse. We argue that this prescribed structure of feeling distorts the affective realities of those for whom resettlement has meant at once the loss of past futures (e.g. professional qualifications, career trajectories, social status, or intergenerational cycles of care) and the running aground of capacities for futurity – especially as these capacities are bound up with transnationally stretched and reconfigured familial relations. What is at stake is the recognition of the crisis of futurability in the spacetime of resettlement and the rightfulness of refugee expectations for a more humane and fulfilling resettlement.

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Volume 40 Issue 3

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