Discourses on the Refugee in a Post-Industrial City
A revealing analysis of how interest groups shape conversations about refugees in Metro Detroit
Deindustrializing and revitalizing cities in the United States are at a particular crossroads when it comes to the contest over refugees. Do refugees represent opportunity or danger? These cities are in desperate need to stem population and resource loss. However, they are also dealing with local communities that are feeling internally displaced by economic and technological flux. Few U.S. locations provide a more vivid case study of this fight than Metro Detroit, where competing interest groups are waging war over the meaning of the figure of the refugee. This book dives deeply into the discourse on refugees that various institutions in Metro Detroit are producing. The way in which local institutions talk about refugees gives us vital clues as to how they are negotiating competing pressures and how the city overall is negotiating competing imperatives. Indeed, the way various groups talk about refugees in Metro Detroit gives us a crucial glimpse into how U.S. cities are defining and redefining themselves today. The figure of the refugee becomes a slate on which groups with varied interests write their stories, aspirations, and fears. Consequently, we can figure out from local refugee discourses the ongoing question of what it means to be a Metro Detroiter now—and by extension, what it means to be a revitalizing U.S. city at this time.
Rashmi Luthra is Professor Emerita of Public Communication and Culture Studies at the University of Michigan–Dearborn.
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