Making Refuge: Somali Bantu Refugees and Lewiston, Maine


Product Details

Duke University Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 0.8 X 9.0 inches | 1.0 pounds
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About the Author

Catherine Besteman is Francis F. and Ruth K. Bartlett Professor of Anthropology at Colby College and the author of Transforming Cape Town and Unraveling Somalia: Race, Class, and the Legacy of Slavery.


"Powerful, persuasive, and illuminating, at once deeply intimate and broadly relevant. Making Refuge will interest students of all levels, professional anthropologists, members of the media, and an educated non-academic readership."-- (05/07/2018)
"It is a devastating read, full of complex geopolitical realities, crushing social revelations regarding race and poverty in America, the seemingly insurmountable problems the Somali Bantu in particular face, and a general public prone to nasty blog comments and xenophobia."--D. L. Mayfield"Books & Culture" (06/01/2016)
"Making Refuge is a superbly written, well-organized book with beautiful stories and photographs and sound but subtle theories that will make it a great book for undergraduates and graduate students and a must-read for anyone interested in refugees, human rights, the aftermaths of war and migration, race and ethnicity, and engaged anthropology."--Jennifer Erickson"American Ethnologist" (06/01/2017)
"Besteman eschews social science jargon to tell her story with great insight and empathy. Her book should be required reading for policymakers currently debating what to do with refugees from Syria."-- (02/15/2016)
"Tensions between newcomers and established communities are as old as the US itself, and Making Refuge is a rich account of what is gained and what is lost in becoming American. Think of this book as your ringside seat to the birth of a new shared meaning of 'life the way it should be.'"-- (02/05/2016)
"[S]cholarly yet accessible. . . . The book neither loses itself in despair nor politicizes what she treats as the wholly human drama that it is."-- (03/01/2016)
"The book is highly accessible, engaging, ethnographically rich, and written with real sensitivity, qualities that will resonate well with students. The book will also be useful to policy makers, NGOs, and refugee service providers."-- (12/05/2016)
"In a time marked by continuous talk about refugee crisis and a rise in anti-immigrant sentiments, Making Refuge forms an important contribution to a more nuanced understanding of displacement. Given the little ethnographically driven research there has been into the plight of Somali minority groups, the book also forms a significant historical document about a community in the making."-- (10/22/2016)
"Making Refuge is particularly relevant in a time when refugee resettlement is widely discussed, as it points to the flaws and contradictions of a system that expects refugees to be docile and thankful recipients of charity to gain resettlement but at the same time requires for them to become self-sufficient shortly after arriving in the country. Besteman offers many useful lessons to policy makers and those who provide services to refugees as well as students of immigrant incorporation."-- (06/01/2017)
"Making Refuge deserves wide readership, both for its distinctive ethnographic foundations and salient conclusions. This timely work speaks to current controversies over refugees and resettlement with rich, data-driven analysis that shatters dominant narratives of integration and belonging."-- (09/01/2017)
"Besteman's book is the fruit of years of engagement with the people about whom she is writing, across two continents, allowing for a rich and intimate account which is a pleasure to read, seamlessly mixing the stories of particular individuals and families, more general analysis, and conceptual insight. A great strength of the account is its multidimensionality: close attention is paid to policy-making and bureaucratic processes, but also to the lived experiences and agency of refugees, and how they navigate these systems."
-- (06/01/2017)
"Given Besteman's unique perspective on the Somali Bantu community in Lewiston and her impressive scholarship on refugees, Africa and racism, it would be difficult to imagine any scholar having as rich and multi-faceted a frame of reference on the issue of refugees in Maine. ... Besteman's writing offers an in-depth and timely analysis of the Somali Bantu experience in Lewiston, now in its second decade." -- (02/14/2016)
"Besteman goes beyond simply portraying the lives of Somali Bantus in Lewiston, Maine and instead shows how the ethnic group 'Bantu' was created, along with the construction and dispute of the Bantu identity, both by those described as Bantus and those doing the labeling. . . . The richness of the data makes the community really come alive in the pages of the book."-- (11/01/2017)