India’s Relationship to the Global Refugee Regime: a legal and historical analysis of the conceptualization of refugeehood

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Ramasubramanyam, Jayantha




Amidst the myriad viewpoints and perspectives that animate discussions on forced migration, the greatest challenge for academics and policymakers, continues to be the relevance and applicability of pre-existing international frameworks that were established to afford protection to people of concern, and the broader implications such challenges have on the global refugee regime. My doctoral dissertation is a study of some of the gaps associated with the global refugee regime and the historical development of refugee protection India, which remains minimally researched. The project identifies India as an alternate location of practice with respect to refugee protection. The dissertation also studies the notion of 'resistance' with respect to India's relationship to international refugee law mechanisms by pitting it against the existing global narrative of 'deviance' that has often been attached to states that are non-signatories of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. With the help of this study, my project will present the first steps towards a new place for discourse on forced migration research. With the help of detailed archival analysis, the thesis examines the subcontinent's practice of refugee protection that deviates from Eurocentric norms. The archival analysis demonstrates that several groups of people have sought refuge in India and the practice of extending sanctuary to such groups has essentially reconstructed refugeehood in India. The thesis provides first steps towards a cross-sectional model of refugee and forced migration research, which makes it crucial to not only move from the rudimentary definitions of a refugee, but also to identify alternate locations of practice. In summary, the thesis is a combination of exploring the 'cacophony of definitions' of refugeehood in India and an examination of look at how the refugee label has evolved over a period of time. Given India's disillusionment with the international refugee framework, the thesis explores the 'general perceptions and views' on refugeehood that have existed historically. Finally, the thesis explores how all of this has manifested into a form of ad-hoc 'practice' of refugee protection and find out whether it has been used consistently or in an interest-based and privileged manner.


International Law and Relations




Carleton University

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Legal Studies

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Theses and Dissertations

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