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When Somalia’s civil war began in 1991, many villagers from Banta, where the author had conducted ethnographic fieldwork in 1987–88, fled across the border to Kenya. The author lost all contact with villagers from Banta. In an unexpected reunion twenty years later, they found each other again in Lewiston, Maine. The introduction describes the reunion, explains the process of ethnographic fieldwork, and introduces the themes of the book, including why refugees matter and what their mobility means in the current global order. The chapter also introduces questions about assumptions of humanitarianism and assimilation and provides a brief overview of Lewiston’s history of impoverishment and marginalization.

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