Refugee resettlement, place, and the politics of Islamophobia
Contested meanings of place have emerged in the wake of refugee resettlement in Missoula, Montana. Drawing on qualitative research, this paper explores the ways the intimate and local politics of refugee resettlement in Montana is intertwined with broader geopolitical discourses that conflate refugees, national security, and Islam. As Missoula became a new resettlement destination in August 2016, some residents responded with protest that framed refugees as a grave threat to the community, while others actively participated in welcoming refugees from Congo, Eritrea, Iraq, and Syria. Interviews with residents suggest that settler colonial narratives constructing Montana as a frontier space shape how locals respond to the idea and embodied experience of refugee resettlement. Meanings and histories of place are key to better understanding of Islamophobia, the politics of refugee resettlement, and the intimate connections between place, identity, and racialization in the contemporary U.S.