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Body CountsThe Vietnam War and Militarized Refuge(es)$
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Yen Le Espiritu

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780520277700

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520277700.001.0001

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Refugee Camps and the Politics of Living

Refugee Camps and the Politics of Living

(p.49) 3 Refugee Camps and the Politics of Living
Body Counts

Yến Lê Espiritu

University of California Press

This chapter examines the makeshift camps in Southeast Asia that mostly sheltered the “boat people” who fled Vietnam in the late 1970s and 1980s on crowded and leaky fishing vessels. For a large number of these second-wave refugee migrants, their stay in Asia was not temporary; they had remained stranded in asylum centers or, in rare cases, settled in these first-asylum countries. And yet, most accounts on Vietnamese refugees have continued to privilege settlement in the West. For the first-wave refugees, their camp stay was brief. In contrast, the vast majority of the second-wave escapees languished in overcrowded camps, waiting uncertainly, sometimes indefinitely, to be reviewed and then resettled or repatriated. This chapter pays particular attention to the creative capacity of these second-wave refugees to make social and political lives in a context that was not supportive of, and often actively hostile to, their intimate lives.

Keywords:   second-wave refugees, boat people, refugee camps, first-wave refugees, fishing vessels, Southeast Asia, Vietnamese refugees

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