Locating Refuge: Racialized Displacement and the Spatial Politics of Belonging

Abstract: From the vantage point of Philadelphia and the surrounding region, this article situates refuge within a framework attentive to settler colonialism and imperialism. Through the example of Fort Indiantown Gap, a space of both temporary refuge and colonial war, I note that making refuge in the United States entails a demarcation of those deemed non-human through practices of dispossession and displacement. By articulating displacement not as a past phenomenon of nation-building but an ongoing project, this article argues for the centrality of displacement to the making of the United States; not an event, but an overarching structure which continues to endure. Such an analytic opens up the potential to articulate forms of spatial justice and repair beyond current projects of refuge-making.

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