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Rethinking Asylum


  • Page extent: 290 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.48 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521707473)

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$41.99 (P)

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people apply for asylum in Europe, North America, and Australia. Some fear political persecution and genocide; some are escaping civil war or environmental catastrophe; others flee poverty, crime, or domestic violence. Who should qualify for asylum? Traditionally, asylum has been reserved for the targets of government persecution, but many believe that its scope should be widened to protect others exposed to serious harm. Matthew Price argues for retaining asylum's focus on persecution – even as other types of refugee aid are expanded – and offers a framework for deciding what constitutes persecution. Asylum, he argues, not only protects refugees but also expresses political values by condemning states for mistreating those refugees. Price's argument explains not only why asylum remains politically relevant and valuable, but also why states should dismantle many of the barriers they have erected against asylum seekers over the last fifteen years.


Introduction; 1. Recovering asylum's political roots; 2. Promoting political values through asylum; 3. What is 'persecution'?; 4. Persecution by private parties; 5. Asylum, temporary protection, and the refugee policy toolkit; 6. Restrictions on access to asylum; Conclusion.


“Lucidly written and powerfully argued, Rethinking Asylum is an important contribution to the academic and policy debates over asylum law. Price’s approach – to understand a grant of asylum as expressive of political values – both returns to foundational justifications for asylum and provides a basis for cogent analysis of current issues.”
T. Alexander Aleinikoff
Georgetown University Law Center

“A lucid and subtle defense of the traditional view that we should reserve asylum for protection of refugees from political persecution. Whether one accepts Price’s conclusions or not, everyone interested in refugee policy should engage with this thoughtful and fair-minded book.”
Joseph H. Carens
University of Toronto

“The best way to save asylum, argues Matthew Price in Rethinking Asylum, is to roll back the judicial liberalization of recent years. If asylum were open only to those specifically victimized by official agents of rogue states, governments would again offer the deeper remedy of permanent integration and abandon the deterrent measures now undermining access to protection. Price eloquently challenges us to accept that refugee law has gone too far. Even those of us who hold a contrary view will learn from his incisive analysis.”
James C. Hathaway
Dean and William Hearn Professor of Law, Melbourne Law School

Rethinking Asylum offers a fresh, powerful and crisply written perspective on the key challenges of providing asylum. Effortlessly integrating legal scholarship and political theory, Price questions some of the central assumptions behind recent refugee policies. This is a standout work.”
Matthew J. Gibney
University Reader in Politics and Forced Migration, University of Oxford

“With its bracing tour of historical and contemporary practices, Rethinking Asylum argues that asylum should be justified, and then crafted, as a political act, not as a humanitarian gesture. Unblinking in the acknowledgment that this conception would foreclose asylum grants sought out of economic desperation, this important analysis also persuasively reopens doors to asylum currently closed by nations fearful of floodgates. Price's political approach could save lives; it surely will generate a better debate over how nations should guard against fraudulent asylum applications while fortifying global repudiations of state-sponsored oppression.”
Martha Minow
Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor, Harvard Law School, and author, Breaking the Cycles of Hatred: Memory, Law and Repair (2003)

"Rethinking Asylum is a provocative effort to reconceptualize the law of asylum and refugee protection in the West. Offering a politically savvy look at an area of law that deserves just such attention, the book showcases the strengths of its author, Matthew Price, who is trained in both political science and law."
The Law and Politics Book Review, Kevin R. Johnson, University of California- Davis School of Law

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