Review of Violaine Schwartz’s Papers

For Full Stop I reviewed Violaine Schwartz’s fascinating portrait of the French asylum system Papers (trans. Christine Gutman):

Displacement is a global phenomenon that demands to be understood in an expansive framework: Transnational crises do not have national solutions. The translation of Papers contributes to this project by shedding light on the human experience of the French asylum system. But perhaps thinking in such macro terms simply reproduces the logics of bureaucracy that Papers reveals. What the book offers instead is testimony to the importance of fostering hospitality, cultivating welcome, and creating spaces of refuge. Yet this, too, is insufficient. “It’s a drop in the ocean,” the speaker hosting Issa in their spare room says. “And there’s something unfair and arbitrary about it too.”

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