South-South Educational Migration, Humanitarianism and Development: Views from the Caribbean, North Africa and the Middle East, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

South-South Educational Migration, Humanitarianism and Development

Views from the Caribbean, North Africa and the Middle East, 1st Edition

By Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh


158 pages

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This ground-breaking book is one of the first to analyse the important phenomenon of South-South educational migration for refugees. It focuses particularly on South-South scholarship programmes in Cuba and Libya, which have granted free education to children, adolescents and young adults from two of the world’s most protracted refugee situations: Sahrawis and Palestinians.

Through in-depth multi-sited fieldwork conducted with and about Sahrawi and Palestinian refugee students in Cuba and Libya, and following their return to the desert-based Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria and the urban Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, this highly pertinent study brings refugees’ views and voices to the forefront and sheds a unique light on their understandings of self-sufficiency, humanitarianism and hospitality. It critically assesses the impact of diverse policies designed to maximise self-sufficiency and to reduce both brain drain and ongoing dependency upon Northern aid providers, exploring the extent to which South-South scholarship systems have challenged the power imbalances that typically characterise North to South development models. Finally, this very timely study discusses the impact of the Arab Spring on Libya’s support mechanisms for Sahrawi and Palestinian refugees, and considers the changing nature of Cuba’s educational model in light of major ongoing political, ideological and economic shifts in the island state, asking whether there is a future for such alternative programmes and initiatives.

This book will be a valuable resource for students, researchers and practitioners in the areas of migration studies, refugee studies, comparative education, development and humanitarian studies, international relations, and regional studies (Latin America, Middle East, and North Africa).


In a field where decentralised and historically-grounded studies remain rare, Fiddian-Qasmiyeh questions common assumptions about the nature, foundations, and lived experiences of humanitarian action. By documenting refugees’ perceptions and pathways, she demonstrates that ‘alternative’ models of support originating in the global South are neither utopias of solidarity nor mere political instruments. A challenging yet accessible insight into the complex identities, conflicting opportunities and paradoxical outcomes of humanitarian action.

Eleanor Davey, University of Manchester, UK

Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh’s excellent research opens our eyes to an important and neglected phenomenon: the transnational movement of refugees from one Southern state to another for educational purposes. Based on in-depth fieldwork, the author explains the politics underlying such movements and their social consequences, and unpacks the implications for how we think about humanitarianism and development. The book is accessible, well-written, and highly original.

Alexander Betts, University of Oxford, UK

This book draws attention to some of the most significant experiences of international migration today, those of Palestinian and Sahrawi refugee-migrant-students, as they exercise agency over their own lives pursuing ambitious education and employment goals in their camps in the MENA region and beyond. Their trials, tribulations and achievements are traced in minute detail from the perspective of individuals, families and (stateless) nations. This indispensible book also investigates the transnational education systems that have welcomed thousands of these and other refugees in Cuba and Libya. These modes of South-South co-operation and solidarity are largely unknown in the global North, and they are analysed here on the basis of extensive fieldwork in three continents. This book is a remarkable achievement, and it will remain an essential reference in the field.

Alfredo Saad-Filho, University of London, UK

Challenging canonical studies of Western-centric humanitarianism, this book unearths the neglected history of Southern-led interventions developed as a response to and in solidarity with Palestinian and Sahrawi refugees. Fiddian-Qasmiyeh carefully analyses the intersecting case-studies of Palestinians and Sahrawis educated in Libya and Cuba, and traces their personal, professional and political experiences of returning as refugee-graduates to their home-camps in Lebanon and Algeria. Her thorough and critical assessment of Derrida and Agamben provides the critical foundations to centralise the agency of these refugees, and to further problematise the complex relationship between hospitality and hostility in these encounters.

Sari Hanafi, American University of Beirut, Lebanon

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: South-South Educational Migration and Development 2. South-South Cooperation: From Dependency to Self-Sufficiency? 3. The Cuban-MENA Educational Migration Nexus: Views from the Caribbean 4. Paradoxes of Educational Migration to Cuba: Views from the Sahrawi Refugee Camps in Algeria 5. Solidarity, Ideology and Circumstantial Humanitarianism: Views from the Palestinian Refugee Camps in Lebanon 6. Libyan Hostipitality Under Sahrawi and Palestinian Eyes 7. Conclusion

About the Author

Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh is a Lecturer in Human Geography at University College London, UK.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Development, Mobilities and Migration

This series is dedicated to the growing and important area of mobilities and migration, particularly through the lens of international development. It promotes innovative and interdisciplinary research targeted at a global readership. The series welcomes submissions from established and junior authors on cutting-edge and high-level research on key topics that feature in global news and public debate.

These include the so called European migration crisis; famine in the Horn of Africa; riots; environmental migration; development-induced displacement and resettlement; livelihood transformations; people-trafficking; health and infectious diseases; employment; South-South migration; population growth; children’s wellbeing; marriage and family; food security; the global financial crisis; drugs wars; and other contemporary crisis.

To submit proposals, please contact the Editor, Helena Hurd ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Economic Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Environmental Economics
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy