The problem of the future in the spacetime of resettlement: Iraqi refugees in the U.S.

Anna J. Secor, Patricia Ehrkamp, Jenna M. Loyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


How do the lost futures of forced displacement converge with the impasse of being resettled to a “post-future” society such as the U.S.? Based on interviews conducted between 2016 and 2019 with resettlement agents, service providers and Iraqis resettled in the U.S., we argue that the condemnation of “expectations” (that is, realistic hope) coupled with the demand for refugees’ gratitude means that Iraqis resettled to the U.S. are asked to sustain a “hope against hope” for the fullness of American futurity, even in the face of its collapse. We argue that this prescribed structure of feeling distorts the affective realities of those for whom resettlement has meant at once the loss of past futures (e.g. professional qualifications, career trajectories, social status, or intergenerational cycles of care) and the running aground of capacities for futurity – especially as these capacities are bound up with transnationally stretched and reconfigured familial relations. What is at stake is the recognition of the crisis of futurability in the spacetime of resettlement and the rightfulness of refugee expectations for a more humane and fulfilling resettlement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-527
Number of pages20
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF; Award ID BCS-1461615). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed here are ours and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • Refugees
  • expectation
  • family
  • future
  • resettlement
  • temporality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'The problem of the future in the spacetime of resettlement: Iraqi refugees in the U.S.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this