1st Edition

Climate Changed Refugee Border Stories and the Business of Misery

By Daniel Briggs Copyright 2021
    224 Pages 27 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    224 Pages 27 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Climate Changed is an honest, humane account about the rapid downsizing of the world’s natural resources and the consequences this has for millions of people who, year after year, are displaced from their home countries because of politically-instigated and economically-justified war and conflict.

    Based on interviews with 110 refugees who arrived into Europe from 2015 to 2018 and observations of refugee camps, border crossings, inner-city slums, social housing projects, NGO and related refugee associations, this book offers a moving insight into the refugee experience of leaving home, crossing borders and settling in Europe. Briggs sets this against the geopolitical and commercial enterprise that dismantled refugees’ countries in the international chase for wilting quantities of the world’s natural resources. At every point of their journey to their new lives and in the resettlement process, the refugees are victimised and exploited, as there is always money to be made from them. Even if refugees’ labour is in demand, there is a European social climate of intolerance and stigma which jeopardises integration and counters their well-being and safety. The climate has changed.

    This book will appeal to students and scholars in core areas of sociology, environmental and sustainability studies, human geography, and politics. Policymakers, practitioners and voluntary workers within the sector of frontline immigration, as well as aid workers, town planners and welfare support staff, will also find this book of interest.

    1. Exodus

    2. Some Notes on the Methodology

    3. Global Capitalism: Profit at Whatever Cost

    4. Let’s Be Honest, What Is There to Debate about Climate Change?

    5. The Business of Misery and the Refugee ‘Crisis’

    6. The Business of Misery: War Commerce and its Human Debris

    7. The Business of Misery: Refugee Border Stories

    8. A Formula for Failure: Welcome to Europe and the Realities of the ‘New Life’

    9. Climate Changed: The Future is Already Here

    10. The Beginning of the End

    11. Revelations


    Daniel Briggs is an experienced ethnographer and social researcher who has studied some of the most disturbing and challenging social realities of the 21st century. He is currently a part-time lecturer in criminology at the Universidad Europea. His previous book, Dead End Lives: Drugs and Violence in the City Shadows, won the Outstanding Book Award 2018 at the Division of International Criminology, awarded by the American Society of Criminology.

    "I have followed Dan Briggs’ work now for a number of years, and I have always been struck by his ability to apply academic rigour to the study of some of the most challenging areas of contemporary life. However, his most distinctive characteristic is sensitivity, and the ability to bring to the fore the essential humanity that exists within some of the most desperate and often reviled communities. All this and more is apparent in his study of the human cost of climate change. This is the second time that Dan Briggs has brought me close to tears with his careful and sensitive work. The importance of this study is matched by its quality."

    Dr Dick Hobbs, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Essex University, Essex, UK

    "Much has been written about 'the refugee crisis', but original and first-hand accounts of the real picture are hard to find. Our brains tend to paint images that have already been planted in our subconscious, maintaining in this way the current status of power and control. It is only when we wake up and start observing ourselves that we get to really see the suffering that we are all endorsing silently. This book speaks to those who are awakened, while it is a unique opportunity for all those who are still asleep to find a path for self-reflection as the post COVID-19 era will bring up new opportunities and challenges for the world order."

    —Prof Theo Gavrielides, Founder and Director of Restorative Justice for All (RJ4All)

    "Climate Changed is a powerful report from the near future of massive climate driven migrations. In this riveting book, complex causes and consequences are historically untangled while abstractions like ‘structure’ and ‘agency’ are rendered as granular human experience. The massive climate migration now underway across the planet is one of the most important issues facing society and politics across the Global North."

    —Dr Christian Parenti, Investigative Journalist, Academic, and Author, New York, USA

    "Dan Briggs is an award-winning ethnographer and author. His research into economically abandoned residential areas in Spain was lauded as the cutting edge of modern ethnography. Nobody is better qualified to bring these fragments of a climate-ravaged future to your readers."

    —Steve Hall, Emeritus Professor

    "This book is vitally important. Briggs utilises his experience and skill as an ethnographer to shine a light on the displaced and dispossessed, to tell their stories and share their experiences, with empathy and understanding. Crucially, their lives are placed within the wider context of political economy and climate change, to contextualise both the micro-level decisions to leave and seek new lives overseas, and the institutional responses to their arrival. As capitalism's blind cycle continues to take a fundamental toll on the climate, on cultures, on individual lives, and on political responses, we need books like this to connect the dots and ask the important questions often overlooked by politicians and mainstream media."

    —Dr Anthony Lloyd, Lecturer in Criminology, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, UK

    "Daniel writes with passion, precision and purpose: graphic illustrations from the front line tempered by powerful reflective academic commentary and analysis."

    —Dr Howard Williamson, Professor of European Youth Policy, University of South Wales, Wales, UK

    "In this book, Dan Briggs provides an original and thought-provoking discussion of the recent refugee crisis and more long-standing process of climate change. Not only a change in environmental conditions, but an increasingly hostile human climate in the so-called developed world, significantly cooling the reception many vulnerable people receive on arrival. Added to this concern is the moral ambiguity of European institutions, civil society agencies and the media, who decry an unfolding catastrophe without ever seeming to alleviate tensions. While not providing any solutions, the author nevertheless invites us to question some of the key assumptions underlying the current situation that may lead us to question our own role in contributing to this humanitarian impasse."

    —Dr David Cairns, Head Researcher, University Institute of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal

    "Dan Briggs' unparalleled work on refugees and Europe's border zones has offered startling insights for some years now. His latest project, Climate Changed, seems likely to offer another frontline assessment that will be of interests to concerned citizens, policymakers and academics. There is a pressing need for such work and Briggs brings a human but critical perspective that will be widely read."

    —Dr Rowland Atkinson, Research Chair in Inclusive Societies, Sheffield University, Sheffield, UK

    "While offering individual narratives and insights of the refugee’s everyday lives, he manages to link these to the processes of global capitalism, the rise of the right-wing parties in Europe and the spread of corporative economy to the countries of Global South. With his sharp and gripping pen, he has written down an ethnographic account about the problems refugees face and how they become victims of the excessive consuming society time and time again, while at the same time trying desperately to make their own living on it. He reveals the paradoxes of liberal capitalism, its ignorance to issues, which are at the core of the refugee crises and the points to the system’s blind ways to solve them."

    —Dr Raili Nugin, Research Fellow, Centre for Landscape and Culture, Tallinn University, Tallinn, Estonia

    "Daniel Briggs’ work makes an inspiring and passionate call to ditch empiricism and head out into the social world to unveil neoliberal capitalism's harsh realities. In Climate Changed, he ethnographically documents the refugees' border stories and life inside the camps: dangerous traveling journeys, absence of hope, rejection of asylum applications and the extreme measures some undertake to get into Europe and survive. Importantly, he places their displacement within global warming, geographical conflict, and socioeconomic instability. Without question, Dan Briggs’ analyses will continue to play an important role in aiding our understanding of a world defined by perpetual and myriad crises."

    —Luke Telford, Northern Ireland and North East Doctoral Training Partnership (NINE DTP) funded PhD student, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, UK

    "Intrepid and unflinching in his analysis of contemporary social problems, Daniel Briggs is quite simply one of the best ethnographers the social sciences currently possess. His latest book is a tour de force: a powerful and thoroughly absorbing account of those caught up in the refugee crisis and the forces that lie behind it."

    —Dr Anthony Ellis, Salford University, Salford, UK

    "Briggs’ book Climate Changed promises to be neither, on the one hand, that kind of academic work which fails to hold on to real lives of people, nor, on the other, a journalistic account missing a coherent frame to analyse in some depth the myriad of cases of refugees stories that are discussed in relation to environmental issues. Instead, this is compelling reading, combining a brave approach, an insightful ethnographic eye, and captivating writing, which will fascinate those interested in the politics of climate and the management of borders."

    —Dr Valentina Cuzzocrea, Senior Assistant Professor, University of Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy