Natalie Kouri-Towe is an assistant professor and program director for the Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality Program at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. Her work examines solidarity, kinship, and attachment in social movements and activist responses to war and gender/sexuality-based violence, with a focus on North America and the Middle East. Her new research examines the role of sexuality and kinship in responses to the “refugee crisis” and she is currently working on a book manuscript on feminist and queer solidarity under neoliberalism.


Kinship and “the Refugee Crisis”: Interrogating the racial and sexual discourses of family in Canadian refugee sponsorship

Over the past three years, Canada’s refugee sponsorship initiative, #WelcomeRefugees, has captured public interest, particularly through stories in the media that feature the intimate relationships that develop between refugees and their sponsors. Yet, the relationship between refugees and sponsors is more complex than that of providing a resettlement service. For one, stories of refugees and sponsors highlight the intimacy and familiality of these relationships. In this paper, I investigate how kinship is deployed, contested, and shaped in the stories told about Syrian refugees and their sponsors, and interrogate the normative, hetero-patriarchal, and racial formations of the family that emerge in profiles on Canada’s sponsorship program, juxtaposing the normalization of “family” in tension with the alternative kinships emergent in the refugee-sponsor relationship.

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