The Global Refugee Crisis and the Gift of Fearlessness

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 26, 2019

The Global Refugee Crisis and the Gift of Fearlessness

Christina A. Kilby
James Madison University

This article is a critical-constructive application of the Buddhist ethical concept of the gift of fearlessness (abhayadāna) to the global refugee crisis and to nativist policy responses. Investigating classical South Asian literary sources on the gift of fearlessness, typically glossed as the offer of refuge or protection to those in danger, I present today’s refugee as situated at the nexus of two types of fear: the fear that drives vulnerable people to flee from harm and the fear that drives a potential refuge-offering state to close its borders or build walls. I argue that the gift of fearlessness, if extended beyond its classical scope to include the challenges of xenophobia and terrorism threats, is a capacious framework through which to probe the moral contours of contemporary refugee policy and the security concerns of states. Read article

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