Book Review: Mean Streets: Migration, Xenophobia and Informality in South Africa

While often critiqued for its limited capacity to grasp complex realities, the idea of the informal economy is deeply embedded in both academic and policy circles – and therefore one we can expect to stick around for some time. For this reason alone, publications like Mean Streets: Migration, Xenophobia and Informality in South Africa, which throw vast empirical light on what are sometimes considered ‘saturated’ topics, is absolutely fundamental in critically engaging with how we talk and think about the economy, how policy gets made, and crucially, how we understand the ways in which people make a living in many of the world’s urbanising spaces.

Co-edited by three established academics – each of whom have published widely on the topics of migration, ethnic relations and the informal economy – Mean Streets reflects a growing recognition of the significance and complexity of the informal economy, in and outside of South Africa. Presenting a powerful case to take seriously the contributions of international migrants to South Africa’s diverse informal economy, Mean Streets makes a loud call to develop inclusive policies that recognise this reality.

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London university offers free course for refugees and asylum seekers

Published February 23, 2017
By Rachael Pells

Refugees and asylum seekers in the UK are being invited to study at a London university free of charge as part of a radical new scheme.

The University of East London is to launch a new short course known as the Open Learning Initiative (OLIve) that will give refugees and asylum seekers the educational grounding to progress to a foundation course and ultimately a full bachelor degree.

Candidates will be able to attend seminars and workshops in higher education reading and writing, English language for academic purposes, computer skills and issues around social sciences, migration, and globalisation.

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Op-ed: Japan must learn to see refugees not as ‘useful’ subjects, but human beings

Published February 15, 2017
By Moe Suzuki
Source: Open Democracy

When US president Donald Trump issued his executive order on 27 January, halting the admission of refugees for 120 days and banning the entry of nationals from seven Muslim countries, it sparked protests and boycotts across the country. A number of heads of states came forward to condemn the action, including the chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, and even the British prime minister Theresa May who initially refused to denounce the ban.

One of the notable exceptions was Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe who, when questioned on the subject in the National Diet on 30 January, answered: “I’m not in the position to comment, but the international community should cooperate in dealing with the issue of refugees”. The lacklustre statement was a stark reminder not only of Japan’s stance towards refugees (or absence of it), but also of the country’s peculiar sense of indifference and withdrawal from any and all issues purportedly requiring “international effort”.

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