New German Critique 1 (46):15-40 (2019)

Siobhan Kattago
University of Tartu
As the war in Syria and the destruction of the Calais camp in France in 2016 bitterly demonstrate, declarations of human rights and asylum devolve into empty promises without a common sense of solidarity and an implicit understanding that we share responsibility for the world and one another. Today’s refugee crisis demonstrates that many of the problems that Hannah Arendt identified during the first half of the twentieth century are still with us. National security and the state of exception increasingly place refugees and migrants at the borders of international law. This article argues that Immanuel Kant’s Perpetual Peace and Arendt’s postwar reflections on the stateless as modern pariahs continue to frame current debates on hospitality, human rights, and responsibility. Without a recognition of our common humanity and shared world, sovereign states will continue to find exceptions to the legal status of refugees and migrants, thus enabling their exclusion from political life and the very laws that should protect them. Falling outside human rights law and the rights of refugees leads to the uncertainty of the pariah.
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