Tag Archives: Cambodia

The Political-Economy of Roti: Urban Refugees in Cambodia and the Struggle for Economic Empowerment

By Mick Hirsch, formerly of Hagar international

Community Outreach Training - Village

In a brief but important essay, Giorgio Agamben avers, “the refugee is the sole category in which it is possible today to perceive the forms and limits of a political community to come.”  The title of his essay, “We Refugees” is an iteration of a more famous essay from 1943 by Hannah Arendt.  Arendt was writing from experience:  her titular “we” avowedly includes herself among those European Jews who were forced to flee the Third Reich.  The reflexivity of Arendt’s “we” attempts to locate a people even within the chaotic thrown-ness (Geworfenheit) of forced displacement.  In the face of being delivered over to a world not chosen, Arendt executes a sociological maneuver that is patently conservative.  For, Arendt’s purpose here is to muster a concerted, albeit dis-located, response to Hitler at the height of his megalomaniac drive to eradicate the Jew.  Given the matrix of loss which defines the lived refugee experience – “We lost our home…We lost our occupation…We lost our language…We left our relatives…and our best friends…and that means the rupture of our private lives”

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