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María Cristina García

The Refugee Challenge in Post-Cold War America

Oxford University Press 2017

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in LawNew Books in National SecurityNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network April 30, 2020 David-James Gonzales

“Never again!” This was the rallying cry, seemingly universal and unanimous, among liberal nation-states as they formed the United Nations (UN) in 1945 and...

“Never again!” This was the rallying cry, seemingly universal and unanimous, among liberal nation-states as they formed the United Nations (UN) in 1945 and later signed the UN Declaration on Human Rights and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948. Emerging from the ashes of a global war that took some 60 million lives, and after witnessing the atrocities of Nazi Germany, a worldwide community appeared resolute in its commitment to not only condemn, but to also strive to prevent future “crimes against humanity.”

In The Refugee Challenge in Post-Cold War America (Oxford University Press, 2017), María Cristina García evaluates how the end of the Cold War brought new and unanticipated challenges to upholding this commitment from 1989 to the present. Through nine case studies that examine the central actors, debates, policies, and conflicts that have shaped the U.S. response to humanitarian crises in the post-Cold War era, Dr. García explains the tensions that exist between different branches of government, the increasing importance of advocacy work by the humanitarian community, and the emergence of a deeply complicated asylum bureaucracy. Weighing the competing forces of fear and advocacy, García skillfully demonstrates the obsoleteness of the current definition of “refugee” in US statute. In its place, she argues for historically informed policies that address the realities of displacement in today’s world.


David-James Gonzales (DJ) is Assistant Professor of History at Brigham Young University. He is a historian of migration, urbanization, and social movements in the U.S., and specializes in Latina/o/x politics. Follow him on Twitter @djgonzoPhD.