Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

4 - Offshore Migrations: Shelter and Humanitarian Ethics Among Detention Centres in Oceania and Southeast Asia

Friday, July 6
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Kadamba, Lower Ground Floor

Against these migratory flows surrounding the Australian policy of mandatory detention, this project poses a fundamental research question: how can we understand offshore detention centers against the context of humanitarian ethics and the architect’s mandate of building humane shelter, which has now been compromised by border politics? In answering this question, the history of architecture and the built environment can shed light on contemporary political situations in Oceania and Southeast Asia, specifically the Pacific Solution and Operation Sovereign Borders. The global detention industrial complex, with its prefabricated buildings, conflicts with the architect’s duties of creating accessible shelter. Such an Inter-Asian history of “states of exception” can demonstrate how offshore processing sites are problematic for humanitarian ethics and offer trenchant commentary about the interventions of Western countries like Australia in the economic and political regimes of poorer countries like Papua New Guinea, Nauru, and Cambodia. Voluntary repatriation schemes made to Afghan refugees and others since 2002 express but one example of Australia’s “right to exclude,” which remains paramount in its socially-constructed conception of governance that holds disturbing consequences for international asylum seekers. Operating as “spaces without law,” offshore processing centers, once considered temporary measures, have become permanent fixtures, overwhelming local communities in Cambodia and Indonesia trying to meet the demands of the Australian government.

Jennifer Ferng

University of Sydney, Australia

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