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Rethinking the status of refugees beyond the camp: a Lefortian response to Agamben’s critique of democracy and human rights

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A new approach to democracy and human rights

EU-funded research has considered views of liberal theorists of democracy and anti-liberal thinkers, seeking to develop an alternative model. The work focused on advancing a better approach to the plight of refugees and immigrants in relation to democracy and human rights.

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The project RECAMP (Rethinking the status of refugees beyond the camp: a Lefortian response to Agamben's critique of democracy and human rights) sought a French alternative to ideas of rights and democracy. It drew on the innovative theory of philosopher, activist and political theorist Claude Lefort, and subsequent work of his students Marcel Gauchet and Pierre Rosanvallon. The former is a French historian, philosopher and sociologist, the latter a French intellectual and historian dedicated to the history of democracy and social justice in contemporary societies. Working on the premise that the radical anti-liberal view is as problematic as the liberal view, research expanded on Lefort's work and his legacy. Through various publications and conference papers, project work outlined how the French alternative is more convincing regarding human rights and democracy. Lefort's ideas were applied to the status of the stateless and the state of nature. This particular line of work has been published and presented to different audiences in both Belgium and Canada. A third research strand was dedicated to exploring and resolving four possible objections to Lefort's theory. This was achieved for three of the four objections, and presented in articles and research presentations. The fourth objection featured at a conference presentation on Gauchet's philosophy of history. Project work resulted in a text book, four papers, four book chapters and the submission of at least another two papers. Participation in many international conferences as well as extensive library and archival research greatly expanded research in the particular area. At the same time, new networks were realised both inside and outside the European Research Area (ERA). With a major focus on the refugee crisis, RECAMP has contributed an alternative approach for Western democracies dealing with refugees, asylum seekers and illegal immigrants.

Keywords

Democracy, human rights, liberal, refugees, immigrants, Lefort, social justice

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