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In a world increasingly shaped by displacement and migration, refuge is both a coveted right and an elusive promise for millions. While conventionally understood as legal protection, it also transcends judicial definitions. In Lived Refuge, Vinh Nguyen reconceptualizes refuge as an ongoing affective experience and lived relation rather than a fixed category with legitimacy derived from the state.
Focusing on Southeast Asian diasporas in the wake of the Vietnam War, Nguyen examines three affective experiences—gratitude, resentment, and resilience—to reveal the actively lived dimensions of refuge. Through multifaceted analyses of literary and cultural productions, Nguyen argues that the meaning of refuge emerges from how displaced people negotiate the kinds of safety and protection that are offered to (and withheld from) them. In so doing, he lays the framework for an original and compelling understanding of contemporary refugee subjectivity.