Displacement in "actually existing" racial neoliberalism: refugee governance in Paris

Ali Bhagat

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3.5 million people currently live without adequate housing in
France with some 10 million others in sub-standard accommodations
without secure and affordable rental tenure. In Paris, homelessness
has increased a staggering 84 percent since 2005 due to
cuts in social service expenditure and the downloading of poverty
management onto cities and civil society organisations. Since
2015, the European Union has seen a large influx of refugees
from protracted conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa—
commonly, and problematically, referred to as the European migration
crisis. Although France has amongst the highest rates of
refugee application rejections in Western Europe, Paris is increasingly
becoming a hotspot for displaced people who are fleeing
improper treatment in frontier states. The Paris case, as suggested
here, illustrates ‘actually existing’ racial neoliberalism pointing to
both the material and ideological features of refugee marginalization.
The purpose of this article is two-fold: First, it highlights the
various issues of political and shelter-based survival for urban
refugees—an aspect understudied especially in cities in the global
North. Second, the article aims to overlay pre-existing crises of
homelessness, inadequate housing, and poverty with the racialization
of refugees within the European migration crisis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalUrban Geography
Early online date2 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Urban refugees
  • political economy
  • global displacement
  • race
  • neoliberalism


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