Dr. Riggan Launches Hosting States and Unsettled Guests at the University of Antwerp, Belgium

By Frankie Arnold | March 18, 2024

Arcadia University Professor and Director of International Studies Dr. Jennifer Riggan launched her new book, Hosting States and Unsettled Guests: Eritrean Refugees in a Time of Migration Deterrence, at the University of Antwerp in Belgium on March 14. Dr. Riggan attended the book launch in person (while in Belgium for Preview), while her co-author, Dr. Amanda Poole, joined by video. The launch was chaired by Dr. Kristof Titeca and Dr. Milena Belloni from the Network of Migration and Global Mobility (MIGLOBA) at the Institute of Development Policy (IOBUA). 

Hosting States and Unsettled Guests explains the failure of policies that try to deter migration by incentivizing refugees to stay in host states like Ethiopia. Dr. Riggan and Dr. Poole use ethnographic research to explore how refugees make choices about their future when their efforts to achieve progress are repeatedly thwarted. This research builds on Dr. Riggan’s previous work, as Eritrea was also the subject of her first book, The Struggling State

The co-authors originally connected while they were both in Eritrea working on research for their doctoral dissertations. They have remained close colleagues and friends since then and began working on this joint project in 2016, while both on sabbaticals.

When asked about what they were hoping to uncover through their research, Riggan stated, “We hoped that our research would tell a positive story about a country that wanted to host refugees, but the story refugees told us was, unfortunately, not a happy one.” 

Dr. Riggan tries to build as much of her scholarship as possible into her teaching, as evidenced by the Preview class she taught in Ethiopia in 2019. Every year, she teaches a class called “The Social Life of War,” which explores the human side of war and violent conflict and includes topics such as refugees and forced migration. In the 2024-25 academic school year, she hopes to teach a new class titled “The Human in Humanitarianism,” which will examine humanitarian issues around the world, exploring many of the same themes as Hosting States and Unsettled Guests.

From left to right: Dr. Kristof Titeca, Dr. Jennifer Riggan, and Dr. Milena Belloni