Refugee Justice in the Global Crisis: Where to from Here?

Pessoptimism, noun, the inextricably intertwined feelings of hope and despair, of desire and knowledge, under the current untenable political conditions

Stephen Wright describes aptly the state of refugee justice in Australia today as a symptom of much broader malaise:

‘The existence of the detention centre on Nauru is a critical marker of the failure of our ability to maintain a commons, and of the failure of the Left’s imagination. The self-immolations of Hodar Yasin and Omid Masoumali are not just the suffering of offshore detention made visible. They are our commons burning.’1 Continue reading →


  1. Stephen Wright, ‘On Setting Yourself on Fire’, Overland, Summer 2016, winner of the Overland/NUW Fair Australia Prize. 

Response by Ken Blackman to “No One is Illegal”

A Response: Stagnation and Closed Minds – Australian Refugee Activism Now                  

“No One is Illegal” is a very interesting attempt to move action in support of asylum-seeking forward in Australia. I especially agree with Brankovich’s conclusions about the impasse currently facing the ‘refugee movement’ here. However, her prescription for a divestment movement aimed at corporations benefitting from government refugee / asylum-seeker policy and practice faces real problems. Continue reading →

No One is Illegal

Negotiating Free Markets, Closed Borders, and Refugee Activism in the Neoliberal Era

Rethinking borders, the state, and human rights

There is a paradox at the heart of the state’s play with, and negotiation of, the meaning ascribed to human rights, border-control and the inflated importance of protection against ‘terrorism’, in the context of a globalised neoliberal world economy. There is a weakening of state authority over controls that enable a free and unencumbered transition of capital across nation-states and continents, across maritime borders, and across artificial custom, ‘border protection’ and quarantine lines. And yet, the borders which people traverse, whilst escaping persecution, torture, or murder have never been stronger, and have never been so intensely policed, surveilled, or encumbered as they are now. Continue reading →