Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education, Vol 2, No 2 (2012)

Refugees: the "Other" Human face, and the "other" academics, an African and Personal Experience

Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education
Volume 2 Number 2 2012

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Refugees: the "Other" Human face, and the "other" academics, an African and Personal Experience

Felix U. Kaputu,[1] Ph.D.

Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Boston, USA

Keywords: "Other", Human Face, Refugee, "Other" Academics, Homelessness, Scholars at Risk

ABSTRACT: For many centuries, refugees have continued to move from one country to another, pushed away from their homes for many different reasons. This often results in aimless journeys around the world as they change into homeless wanderers. Wars, political conflicts, ideological differences, social rejections, natural disasters, and socio-economic failures are the main reasons, pushing thousands in different ways toward the unknown. If immigrants are indeed observed all over the world, the case of African refugees is very much outstanding. The Middle Passage shipped many Africans to the Americas during the slave trade era, and many still leave the continent today and go to all parts of the world. Immigration statistics project no change in this trend in the near future.

This paper covers the main reasons for the African massive exodus towards overpopulated continents. It also expands on the conditions these generally unwanted immigrants face in hostile hosting countries, while offering a set of examples where good hearts and minds have facilitated both social insertion and human communications. The Scholar at Risk Network represents an exceptionally good example, and illustrates the author's personal example as an academic "other". Finally, the paper proposes what countries all around the world could do together to avoid large human flows.

Far from their homelands, aliens stand for the "others", different from the local people, perpetually in quest for recognition, social insertion, and identity reconstruction under various stressful conditions. Capetillo-Ponce (2004) provides the first understanding of the "other" defined as a stranger speaking a different and unknown language, and a "barbarian". In addition, Capetillo-Ponce (2004) looks at how human groups construct their identity, and define their standards through interaction with the "other", the stranger, assigning distinguishing and unique racial, cultural, and socio-political characteristics. Language, art and religion, along with such concepts as race, ethnicity, community, nationalism — among many others — emerged to explain certain obsessive aspects of the "other", and the sense of belonging to groups, neighborhoods, institutions, primitive tribes, nations, and thus to foster legitimacy and identity among individuals and groups, and sometimes to create divisions and conflict.

For many centuries, immigrants – including refugees seeking asylum, forcibly sent away from their homes for various reasons – have moved in big waves from one country to another, from one continent to another, all around the world in search of a peaceful haven. These forced immigration and refugee waves became particularly reinforced during and after World War II when many Jews hastily left Germany to avoid Nazi xenophobic hatred and mass extermination in gas chambers, became exiles, who built vibrant diasporic communities. Nowadays, a wider understanding of the term "refugee" includes internally displaced people (IDP) facing similar dangers – tribal-ethnic, racist, xenophobic, irrational motivations and uncertain futures, including community extermination − within their own country, which has suddenly changed from paradise into hell. Phillips (2011) mentions a steady growth from 1.5 million refugees recorded in 1951, to approximately 43.7 million forcibly displaced in the world, 15.4 million refugees 837,500 asylum seekers and 27.5 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). For individuals in all categories, i.e., refugees, immigrants, asylum seekers, and IDP, displacement often ends in aimless and endless journeys around unpredicted areas – national and international. Their destinations are frequently similarly hostile, offering only in rare cases a new beginning in an organized Diaspora, or a new collective area of occupancy within the new country. These immigrants become homeless wanderers who rely on human charity, such as recognition by United Nations institutions, while facing governments they do not understand. In many countries, they experience immigration exclusive conditions. Wars, political conflicts, ideological differences, social rejections, natural disasters, and economic failures further inflame this hotly burning melting pot of anti-democratic, dangerous conditions that push thousands on their atypical, dangerous ways to the unknown. They perpetually seek peaceful horizons never reached, always pushing ahead on their roads to imagined possibilities and only virtually understandable happiness. Weine et al. (2011) have observed how all along their relocations, refugees (especially African refugees, Burundians and Liberians) still carry with them traumatic experiences resulting from political, sexual, and criminal assaults. Poor education, unemployment, family break-up, and extreme poverty characterize secondary and relocations among many African refugees.

In spite of refugees' international presence and origins, these forced immigrants are visible everywhere, with Africans comprising one fourth of this population. Africa, with the close proximity of all its countries, has become an experimenting field of violence, producing tools that uproot many people from their natural biotopes, including light weapons, land mines, ideological oppositions, rampant ethnic theories, rigged elections, pre-electoral, electoral and post-electoral conflicts, mineral scramblers, proxy wars, anti-nationalist eccentricities, opposing colonial and postcolonial discourses, artificial borders, and state-nation constructivist patterns. These influences, in particularly violent combinations, find in Africa a free and large field of application, that fabricates different forms of intra and extra muros migrations. Chabal, Engel, & Gentili (2005) mention citizenship often reduced to ethnicity, political clientelism, ethnic power construction, and war among reasons that force Africans on endless migration journeys.

The Slave Trade Middle Passage saw many Africans shipped to the Americas in the sixteenth century, and many still leave the continent today for other parts of the world. The Middle East is increasingly becoming a new problematic destination. Recently, many Sudanese illegal immigrants have been expelled in successive waves from Israel. Paz (2011) already pointed out new trends in African immigration towards the Middle East, and predicted a very quick growth. African immigration statistics project no change in this trend in the foreseeable future. On the contrary, these human movements are very quickly reaching an alarming level that portends all kinds of catastrophes both in Africa and in the hosting countries. In fact, in spite of the high birth rate that still persists in parts of the continent, it is not impossible to imagine a systematic emptying of Africa due to endemics, wars, malnutrition, famine and immigrations. Africa is facing the worst possible contradictions. Rich in very rare minerals and large water reserves, deserts replete with interesting archeology, and forests widely important for world climate equilibrium normally would stand as perfect hosting lands for populations coming from all around the world. Unfortunately, apart from multinationals launching wild mineral exploitation, facilitating local fighting factions, and fueling multifaceted violence, international NGOs associated with human rights or grassroots development have been rare, and the continent continues to be replete with inhospitalities connected to wars, violence, undemocratic practices, and natural and forced disasters. Apart from different wars, political assaults, and regional instability, Kaputu (2010), for instance, gives many details on health conditions in Sub-Saharan African – through the sample of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo – and documents on the conditions that lead to many diseases, especially HIV-AIDS. Malnutrition, area desertification, armed militias, extreme poverty, and especially HIV-AIDS ravage many areas, and have brought death to many places. Much of the work done by international NGOs has contributed to a given stability, but poverty still brings much death, and continues to be among the most important death triggers and immigration reason indicators. Potential wealth from minerals, according to Prunier (2009), creates war and violence centers that oppose African countries, and force many peaceful people to change into IDPs or to start endless migration and relocation around the world.

This paper covers the main reasons underlying the massive exodus of Africans toward other continents, even under inclement weather conditions for tropical immigrants. It expands on the conditions faced by these generally unwanted immigrants in hostile hosting countries. This paper also offers examples where human, good, charitable, open hearts and minds have facilitated both social insertion and human communications, care for small groups' resettlement, and unexpectedly welcoming horizons open to many possible dreams. Finally, the text will offer suggestions for what countries all around the world could do together to stem the large flow of refugees on hopelessly endless roads, paying attention to global welfare factors that can lead to economic and socio-political best options for all countries. This paper will consider the most appropriate course of action to take when people are forced en mass to leave their countries in search of sanctuary. Finally, this will be a good opportunity to highlight the Scholar at Risk Network and its connection with a specific kind of refugee.

On the transition to the unknown

All around the world, men, women and children of various nationalities are constantly on the run on unknown roads while searching for a hosting land. Like ships in a sea of turmoil, many drown before the end of the storm and only a few reach safe, solid land. In addition, as Haas (2008) states, "Trans-Saharan and Trans-Mediterranean victims recruited by merciless and unscrupulous traffickers and smugglers" (p. 9) are adding to the fast growing number of illegal migrants. Reaching a safe land, however, does not necessarily mean getting safer or achieving one's democratic dream and its implication of peace, prosperity and political participation as Weine et al. (2011) pointed out (here) regarding migration and relocation issues of Burundian and Liberian refugees in the United States. Additionally, chaotic situations shake these immigrants, forcing them towards horizons never reachable, new challenges to survival, and often additional desperate trips. The United Nations and other international government and non-government organizations focus on different areas of challenge and the violence patterns that certain refugees face, and figure out their various interventions. Finally, the overused term "refugee" strikes people's attention a bit like a species of human beings different from others, often at the origin of problems, essentially living on the social margins, and quite often relying on the charity of those who can drop unnecessary coins into the coffers of churches and non-government organizations to extend to the world. Refugees may also be compared to cast systems so often condemned, but largely encouraged here and there for exploitation reasons, and curiously also often accepted by the very victims. Presentation of this collection of characteristics of this type of refugee may lead people to believe that nothing good can come from them, only instability, unsolvable financial burdens, and the impossibility of assimilation into society. Quite often, scholars fail to find out a clear definition of the term refugees, Ralston (2012) locates them at the intersection of many local and international preoccupations, "Refugees exist at the intersection between international and local politics, as well as between discourses about humanitarian, political, and human rights responsibilities" (p. 363).

The United States of America is an excellent illustration of the result of massive exoduses. During its early years of development, people left many parts of the world as voluntary or forced refugees, and finally settled down on the new continent. Due to the formation of and struggle for a democratic government, they were able to build a nation that allowed expression of their aspirations and beliefs. They transformed the new continent into a place of opportunity for many who looked to the American dream as a better destiny. The settlers were allowed a new constructed identity free from ideologies reducing human rights, killing human and social dynamics. However, some immigrants, especially Africans, are accused of bringing many problems. Huttman et al. (1991) underline how progressively immigrants stopped being considered a positive force of change and economic interest, but were seen as scapegoats of economic recession, and development failure of any kind, "Real or imaginary… immigrants are being scapegoated by people of color and whites directly and indirectly…the economic fortunes of African Americans have always been linked to immigration". Other scholars go as far as suggesting that immigration's rising tides are inversely correlated with African-American economic and social progress. Unfortunately, the general opinion often fails to make a clear distinction between larceners, burglars, beggars, dangerous people, and genuine refugees. Immigrants in general and refugees in particular are often classified in any of the above categories quite often depending on the places where they are more or less accepted or refused, and the main social issues for which they are very good scapegoats (Hartman, 2001). Today, more and more, scholars integrate in their research on refugee resettlement religious and theological dimensions that group refugees around their faith both home and in the relocation (Ralston, 2012; Groody, 2009).

The process to a new identity, and the insertion within a new social tissue, do not necessarily reflect what all refugees expect or live on a daily basis. African refugees have for years relocated to many parts of the world under different conditions. Many have completely become part of their new society; newly born generations hardly remember their connections to Africa to the point that such cases could be looked upon as successes, in spite of very difficult beginnings and obvious prejudices. Holtzman (2008), for instance, mentions among many things how the Nuer (from Sudan) were looked at as "exotic, black tribal Africans, refugees," (p. 114) very much confirming the use of the concept "other" as early presented in this text, and forgetting to mention their social success in their relocation process.

However, these days many African countries seem to excel in filling the world with irregular immigrants, scam champions, and other loafers who roam the roads from Madrid to London, from Belfast to New York. They inhabit many cities in the western world, Israel and other parts of the Middle East and Far East, and increasing numbers of places in South America often presented as new virtually safe paradises. Many Africans who have reached these places are accused of surviving through theft, robbery, drug selling, and other dangerous behaviors.

Another general category has come about especially after September 11, 2001. Terrorist attacks on the New York towers, and elsewhere in the United States have increased prejudice toward refugees and immigrants from Islamic lands who happen to be Muslims, and they are likely to be called terrorists. Public psychology is put into contribution (Bongar, 2003) in order to call people terrorists with regard to religion rather than to personal responsibilities. Thus, some immigrants become a very dangerous group whose social insertion cannot be easy, and whose presence is likely to be avoided under the false claim of terrorism, pushing them on other dangerous roads. Ruby (2002) gives an excellent illustration of different attempts to get a definition of the concept terrorism. Patterns of terrorism that include illegality, moral understanding, and "abnormal" behavior easily leave an open space, providing different definitions of refugees labeled "others".

In addition to attempts by UN institutions to facilitate the settlement and social integration of refugees and IDP, more and more other specialized institutions are dealing with specific categories of refugees. Even though they share a lot in common with other refugee categories, these distinct categories require special attention. International institutions dealing with refugees have specific orientations. The ones very closely linked to churches generally show interest in poor people, and victims of local traditions that impose social suffering after funeral rites and other subsequent suffering judged pagan. There are institutions that deal with students and give them opportunities to continue their studies. Others include specifically widows, orphans, and war victims. Jackson (1999) rather enriches the debate on refugees' identity in underlining definitions and identities linked to group situations. Other scholars like Morin (2007) from the reading of Derrida's texts project many other types that lead to a transcendental order and consideration of the "other". A special category focusing on scholars and academics is attracting more and more attention. We will have the opportunity to talk about them and consider challenges that lead them from one country to another, from one continent to another as refugees in search of a possible continuation of their profession in hosting high education institutions. These individuals are lucky enough to go through a set of academic institutions that consider and develop a new kind of partnership connecting a good number of academic institutions around the world. Unfortunately, many academic institutions are not yet affiliated with programs that provide opportunities for "other" academics in danger in their respective countries.

"Others'" Hybridity

One of the major challenges faced by all refugees – and IDP – as they go around their country or the world has to do with establishing an identity needed for successful insertion in a new social environment. These challenges include refugees' capacity to understand themselves as well as the societal expectations. With regard to identity construction through successive social changes and insertions, Babha (2005) offers comprehensive attempts to understand refugees' challenges. The text pinpoints the concept hybridity and extends it to many possible human new configurations. With a background reference to biology, hybridity would suggest a mixed gene heritage that produces a new species or at least a new kind of individual that adapt themselves to a new environment and to new conditions. Indeed, according to Darwinism new species are generally better equipped and resist better against weather conditions, parasites, and are likely to offer better benefits as they survive over time and other conditions. Refugees might in exceptional cases look like those biological successes that solve problems and facilitate new environments' growth. The cases mentioned earlier with regard to the first immigrants to the US would easily fit this pattern. Individuals that moved from their native countries and continents and settled on another continent in order to live their own dreams, created a new understanding of a country. This new understanding included, for example, the concepts of separation of state and religion, clear boundaries between the sacred and the profane, and a better chance for all citizens to enjoy human rights and spiritual aspirations. Mircea Eliade's many books and especially the 1987 publication underline the hybridity of the sacred the profane that produces different kinds of beings presenting different combination dimensions. The United States experience, despite violent controversies with the first land occupants and civil war could be looked at as an illustration of refugees' successful metamorphosis, collective identity change, construction and adaptation to a new social insertion in a new environment for the building of a new big nation. Their expanding numbers, their quick evolution towards the use of the same language, and the presence of very close friends and relatives moving together likely facilitated many aspects of this evolution: cohabitation, culture, political institutions, social aspirations and the building of the same dream(s) and the fabric of democratic institutions.

However, with another reference to biology, hybridity leads to an identity that belongs not to one group or another specifically, and thus may be difficult to accept. It may be perceived as strange as well as fluid in its definition. However, the difficulty of classification in one group or another may make hybridity especially challenging for newcomers to adapt to the new environment and create difficulty adhering to pre-established social insertion norms. In this vein, many refugees who might have had much hope for success and advancement in their country of origin end up not finding any kind of job that matches their previous experiences or leadership dreams. This failure of satisfaction leads to much frustration, an additional traumatic experience that further develops the persona here referred to as "others", very different from everybody, from themselves, easily identifiable and even self-accepting of the identity of being the ones bringing the most crucial problems to a country. This leads to a traumatic experience.

Hybridity includes psychological dimensions as indicated by the signals mentioned above. However, the consequence of that state of mind finds its expressions in many fields. Evan (2007) guides readers on a very fertile land where hybridity freely expresses itself and reveals its connections with many philosophical, aesthetic, religious, and cultural trends around the world. Literature, in its creative expressions, depicts meeting points of different cultures and civilizations. Literature is not alone that endeavor, Fleischmann (2009), Waters (2003), Fludernik (2003), and Naficy (1999), among many others, concur with the idea that human minds wander aimlessly through narrow dream-like paths searching for a homeland. Through their relocation(s), many people feel they belong to several places at the same time, thus running the risk of being perpetually dissatisfied wherever they are as remembrances of other places keep haunting them, and questioning their citizenship. Multiculturism and common traditions recreated in new locations still underline the need of a home, the feeling of exile, and a virtual homeland that runs the risk of failing to meet a physical land. Along with literature, films, media, and other artistic expressions become the political space open to "otherness", hybridity, virtual global citizenship longing through a constant of potential satisfaction on a unfinished journey to complete exile and land possession.

The Scholar at Risk Network rescuing academic "others"

Despite the fact that international refugees are often looked at as "others", strangers, scapegoats and oftentimes confused with terrorists, outlaws, or "gypsies," (Bankcroft, 2008), some human rights associations offer a glimmer of hope in their approaches toward and consideration of these people from around the world. Human rights associations stress the fact that people all over the world are often subjected to situations that degrade human dignity, and they recognize universally accepted rights and freedoms. These associations create forums that offer possibilities to those who are exposed to exploitation or lack freedom to express their opinions and, if possible, engage in exchange within professional groups within the same categories. It goes without saying that speaking about these possibilities is not enough, and those who speak freely about human rights needs in their countries risk victimization or death.

Apart from the youth and war victims that are often taken care of by church and non-government organizations, individuals who fall into other categories are unfortunately not given much attention. Indeed, many academics, for instance, generally trained in western universities and academic institutions are exposed to atrocities. Their only fault is they decided to go back to their countries and implement with their peers new teaching methodologies designed to reinforce students' critical minds and judgment for better social services. These academics often end up mistreated, imprisoned, or killed if not forced, for safety, into exile far from their home. They join the big flows of refugees traveling around the world, running after the unreachable virtual horizon, regularly taking petty jobs quite different from their training, and suffering many kinds of traumas. The International Migration Office (IMO) knows this specific category of immigrants, as they are very visible in Europe, and include scholars and academics. Although the IMO takes interest in them, it tends to concentrate only on the few who are forced to stay in Europe after their studies, rather than on the needs of others around the world.

Refugees in this specific category of academics, who are threatened at home and in hosting countries, are in a situation that cannot possibly permit them to work and fill the academic mission for which they received training. They cannot give needed services to their home country nor share their skills and knowledge with new generations. It is not easy for these academics to emigrate to another country for several reasons. Many universities and colleges do not recognize the category of threatened scholars and do not pay attention to them. These scholars face neglect or suspicion in the hosting countries, and a lack of specific attention to their persons that is generally associated with the main groups wandering around the world, or worse, with the many "others".

To put an end to these differences, and to give attention to scholars, a group of scholars and human rights associations sat together to think about their own understanding of freedom in general, and the freedom "to pursue scholarship and research without discrimination, censorship, intimidation, or violence". It was evident to everyone involved that many scholars around the world cannot afford this kind of freedom under dictatorship and other violent political systems that generate wars, hatred, and xenophobia. As a preamble to their meeting, a quick historical review revealed how scholars' situations were addressed throughout history, specifically cases from 15th century Greek scholars after the conquest of Constantinople, to the more than 600 scholars and students fleeing Russia in the early 20th century, to the unprecedented attacks on scholars in the World War II era when racist and nationalist policies of European dictatorships – Nazi Germany principally, but Italy, Spain, and Russia as well – drove thousands of scholars and intellectuals into exile".

The groups that met noticed that throughout history, scholars and intellectuals were defended and treated with a specific consideration for their career. They decided they needed to find new ways to protect these specific endangered refugees.

In 2001, the Scholar at Risk Network was launched. Its aim was to bring scholars facing severe human rights abuses in their region to positions at universities, colleges and research centers in safe countries. Work done by pioneers in the long past for the protection of scholars and intellectuals inspired the work the Scholar at Risk Network has undertaken. Today, after ten years of strong activities, the Scholar at Risk Network has been able to host academics and scholars, and to grow very quickly in order to cover needs from many parts of the world. The Scholar at Risk Network is currently present in about 45 countries, representing about 245 universities and colleges. It reaches out for collaboration with about 50 academic institutions.

Rescued by the Scholar at Risk Network: Personal Testimony

In 2005, I had just arrived from a training session on religion and gender at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan. During the time I spent there, I had the opportunity to be invited for a panel with the president of my University and the colleague with whom I was teaching. I wanted them to have a chance to meet scholars from around the world and engage in different cooperation protocols that could bring changes to our home University. It could enable connections that would develop different aspects of its academic programs, social services, and aspirations for a better future. After the panel, I went on with the work and the training, and my visitors returned home.

On my arrival back home, I was invited to a meeting with the director of Security in my home province Katanga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This was not unusual and I did not suspect any danger at all. I was often called in to assist in matters related to my research. I was actually excited that the director was interested in my work.

When I arrived for the meeting, I was arrested on accusations of smuggling weapons into the Democratic Republic of Congo from Japan, where I had attended the conference, and of being the mastermind of a rebel army (20,000 member military) that intended to declare independence of the Katanga Province after secession. These claims were so absurd, I did not know how to react.

When they threw me in prison, the warden said, "Here, you are no longer a professor." The conditions were nightmarish. It was months before my family even knew where I was. When they finally found me and tried to visit, the guards told them to save their money. "Once he is here…" the guards said, "He is already dead. Do not waste your money for a useless corpse soon rotten".

Well… I am not dead. And thanks to the Scholars at Risk Network and its many participating institutions and partners, I am still a professor. I am indeed a very good example of the "other" accepted, transformed and integrated into another society, thus justifying the very concept of university that includes traditions from all over the world.

It was a Canadian scholar from Toronto, whom I had met in the summer 2003 in Switzerland at a conference of the Initiative of Change (an international NGO on human security and international fraternity), who was first informed of the dangers I was facing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She contacted Amnesty International, the Toronto chapter, at first, and the Scholar at Risk Network based in New York, and documented my case. The conjugated efforts of these people and institutions eventually were strong enough to smuggle me out of the Congo and lead me to the United States.


In spite of internationally ratified conventions of human rights, and the presence of UN institutions, refugees remain on the run all over the world, facing the same drastic conditions that put the first ones on the roads many centuries ago. Of all categories of immigrants who leave for different reasons, Africans are among the most exposed as they try to find refuge on foreign continents. Africa, in spite of its potential wealth, faces different atrocities linked to a continental disorganized market of light weapons easily sold to fighting factions. Adding to this are ethnicities reformulated around arbitrary power acquisition strategies, using ethnicity and clientelism to secure undemocratic power for violent factions also exposed to the same patterns of violence, power keeping and release. Victims of these oppositions and the resulting violence and killing, run for their security towards the unknown.

Among those running for safety, are more and more academics, oftentimes targeted for their faith in education: their desire to secure a decent education for all, new capacities of judgment, and quick involvement in democratic institutions. They are forced to leave their respective countries because they refuse to reduce their academic training to incomprehensible local politics. The Scholars at Risk Network is one of the rare institutions that has, for the last decade, offered hosting opportunities to academics in danger in their home institutions.


1 Felix U. Kaputu is ending a three-year contract at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, Massachusetts, the United States of America. This step came on a long pilgrimage that brought him, successively since 2006, to the W. E. B. Dubois Institute at Harvard University, Purchase College (SUNY) in New York, the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto, Japan, and the international Christian University of Tokyo, Japan. Massachusetts College of Art and Design comes on the top of a long pilgrimage where academic institutions facing rough recession times manage to get an opening for sharing the expertise of the "other" academic.


i With approximately 43.7 million people forcibly displaced in the world, 15.4 million refugees, 837, 500 asylum seekers and 27.5 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs); it is a steady growth from 1.5 million refugees recorded in 1951 – the highest figure so far reached: data available and well documented in Asylum seeker and refugees: What are the facts? by Janet Phillips, Social Policy section, Parliament of Australia, Department of Parliamentary Services, Parliamentary Library, Information, Analysis, Advice, July 2011.

ii Judy El-Bushira and Kelly Fish, "Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons," in International Alert Women Waging Peace, Washington DC, 2004. These authors retake the UN definition insisting on the dangers that threatened people face in their own country and elsewhere if there is not an organized, and competent structure that takes care of them.

iii Immigration Laws have become very tough. The United States and Canada are the only ones today. Japan, China, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the European Union have more than ever reinforced their laws and attitudes on foreigners.

iv Patrick Chabal, Ulf Engel, Anna-Maria Gentili, Is Violence Inevitable in Africa? Theories of Conflict and Approaches to Conflict Prevention, Boston: BRILL, 2005. This book enumerates many reasons that push Africans on migrations. Anna-Maria Gentili's chapter entitled "Ethnicity and Citizenship in Sub Saharan Africa" particularly describes the construction of ethnicity and political clientelism for both building political power, and for pushing people's far from political arenas and from their countries.

v Sudan and South Sudan were one and the same country, victim of many years of violence and wars, until the United Nations divided it into two on July 9, 2011. Unfortunately, much more violence and heavy weaponry war oppose the new countries, sending more and more South Sudanese in exile. Israel seemed to offer opportunities, but the global recession has quickly become an excuse to get rid of refugees. News24 has still an article on a small group of South Sudanese flown back home. Consulted on August 7, 2012.

vi Yonathan Paz: "Ordered Disorder: African Asylum seekers in Israel and discursive challenges to an emerging refugee regime," in New Issues in Refugee Research, Research Paper N0 205, UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency, Policy Development and Evaluation Services, for instance, largely documents on a high and unprecedented phenomenon of a recent influx of African Asylum seekers undertaking a very long and risky journey to Israel.

vii Philippe Denis and Charles Becker, editors, The HIV-AIDS Epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa in a Historical Perspective, Online Edition, Réseau Sénégalais "Droit, Etiquette, Sante" / Senegalese Networks "Law, Ethics, Health", October 2006; also Dean T. Jamison et al., Disease and Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa, second edition, Washington DC: The International Bank for Reconstruction and development, 2006, and this article Felix Ulombe Kaputu, "The Deadly Pandemic, Quarter a Century After: The Katanga Province (D.R. Congo) and the Northwester Province (Zambia), Women in a World of HIV-AIDS," in The Journal of Social Science, International Christian University Social Science institute, N0 69, March 2010, Pp. 33 – 51: These books and article gives many details on health conditions in Sub-Saharan African and documents on the conditions that lead to many diseases, especially HIV-AIDS. Malnutrition, area desertification, armed militias, extreme poverty, and especially HIV-AIDS ravage many places, and have brought death to many places… Much work done by international NGOs has contributed to a given stability, but poverty still brings much death.

viii Gérard Prunier, From Genocide to Continental War: The 'Congolese' Conflict of Contemporary Africa, London: Hurst & Company, 2009. This book explains how Congolese minerals attracted many African nations (and others) to Congolese successive wars essentially for their own possibility to have access to Congolese natural wealth.

ix Hein de Haas, Irregular Migration from West Africa to the Maghred and the European Union: an overview of recent Trends, Prepared for IOM, International organization for Migration, 2008. P.9 Boats leading migrants to Europe have become a generalized phenomenon linking especially both Western and Maghreb African coasts to the European Union. However, the number of victims by accidents still goes increasing through other dangerous immigration routes.

x Elizabeth D. Huttman, et al., ed. Urban Housing of Minorities in Western Europe and the United States, Duke University Press, 1991, P. 79. This document provides information on how minorities are often looked at as scapegoats when politicians fail to take the right social solutions.

xi Chester W. Hartman ed., Challenges to equity: Poverty and Race in America, New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc. 2001, P. 276 illustrates the suffering that immigrants undergo in different countries. Their increasing number is often considered as the reason of the host countries. However, all along history there are cases that show how immigrants give a punch to the economy of their new country.

xii Jon D. Holtzman, Nuer Journeys, Nuer Lives: Sudanese Refugees in Minnesota, second edition, Boston, Pearson Education, Inc., 2008, page 114 mentions among many things how the Nuer were looked at as "exotic, black tribal Africans, refugees", very much confirming the use of the concept "other" as presented in this text. Nicole Kidman's "God Grew Tired of Us" rather depicts how lost boys from southern Sudan were able to go through several atrocities, but still turned out to be very successful in their relocation in the United States.

xiii Charles L. Ruby, "The definition of Terrorism", in The Society of the psychological Study of Social issues, Analyses of Social issues and Public Policy, 2002, Pp. 9-14 gives an excellent illustration of different attempts to get a definition of the concept terrorism. Patterns of terrorism that include illegality, moral understanding, "abnormal" behavior would easily leave an open space to the "others".

xiv International institutions dealing with refugees have specific orientations. The ones very closely linked to churches generally show interest for poor people, and victims of local traditions that impose social suffering after funeral ritual and other subsequent suffering judged pagan. Ivor C. Jackson, The Refugee Concept in Group Situations, Refugees and Human Rights, The Hague, Kluwer Law International, Martinus Nighoff Publishers, 1999 gives situations that explain how refugee groups get identities.

xv Ivor C. Jackson, The Refugee Concept in Group Situations, Refugees and Human Rights, The Hague, Kluwer Law International, Martinus Nighoff Publishers, 1999 gives situations that explain how refugee groups get identities.

xvi Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture, New York, Routledge, 2005. In this book, the author describes how the borderline in cultural difference engagements are often based on consensual and conflictual terms, often moving between different groups.

xvii Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, the Nature of Religion, Orlando, Harcourt, Inc., 1987 "The customary boundaries between the private and the public, high and low… challenge normative expectations of development and progress" (p. 3).

xviii Angus Bankcroft, Roma and Gypsy-Travellers in Europe: Modernity, Race, Space and Exclusion, Research in Migration and Ethnic Relations Series, Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2005; and Valentina Glajar and Domnica Radulescu, "Gypsies" in European Literature and Culture, Studies in European culture and History, New York: PALGRAVE MACMILLANTM, 2008 offer a very good comparison of immigrants with European Gypsies. They go from one country to another, and belong to nowhere. When they seem to represent a danger in France, they shuttled to Romania or elsewhere. In spite of relocation fees they are given, they are again on their way to France, or to another European country before reaching France again.

xix The Scholar at Risk Network and the Scholar Rescue Fund largely document such cases and have been able to have connections with different academic connections. They have taken the responsibility to connect with endangered academics, and try to help them in their academic pilgrimage wherever there are possibilities of hosting them.

xx The Scholar at Risk Network's website ( gives many details on its work, development, and services in many academic institutions that have adhered to its principles turning around the safety to give to endangered academics.

xxi Marianne Onsrud Jawanda, "From Professor to Prisoner," retrieved on August 7, 2012 still accounts for what happened.


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1 Felix U. Kaputu is ending a three-year contract at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, Massachusetts, the United States of America. This step came on a long pilgrimage that brought him, successively since 2006, to the W. E. B. Dubois Institute at Harvard University, Purchase College (SUNY) in New York, the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto, Japan, and the international Christian University of Tokyo, Japan. Massachusetts College of Art and Design comes on the top of a long pilgrimage where academic institutions facing rough recession times manage to get an opening for sharing the expertise of the "other" academic.

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