Academic journal article The International Journal of African Historical Studies

This Place Will Become Home

Academic journal article The International Journal of African Historical Studies

This Place Will Become Home

Article excerpt

This Place Will Become Home. By Laura C. Hammond. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2004. Pp. 257. $45.00/£25.95 cloth, $19.95/£11.50 paper.

Feeling forgotten appears to be something that nearly all of the world's waraffected share. It is indeed remarkable to realize how this feeling surfaces in virtually every war context, whether among refugees, the internally displaced, people who never fled their home areas (who are, alas, further burdened with the unfortunate label "stayee"), or, as detailed in Laura Hammond's important book, after people return to their home country once conflicts end and peace reportedly surfaces.

A strength of this book is that it is chronological, taking place on both sides of the Sudan-Ethiopia border. Descriptions of responses to myriad repatriation challenges in the new village of Ada Bai by the Ethiopians at the center of the story make sense in large part because Hammond first described their trials and successes in the refugee camps they had left behind in Sudan. This structure brings her description of emplacement, a process of transforming "an unfamiliar physical space into a personalized, socialized space" (p. 3), into fuller view. She also sharply critiques the notion that repatriation constitutes a triumphant conclusion of a refugee's odyssey, arguing instead that it marks "a new beginning, one in which people may need significant assistance" (p. 27). The entire story is described in clear, accessible language, a refreshing departure from some other scholarly works on the war-affected that have surfaced in recent years. …

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