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  • Displacement, resistance and the critique of development: from the grass-roots to the global

    12 November 2013

    This paper explores the ways the rights, claims and visions of the development process that are expressed in the complex and multidimensional forms of resistance to development-induced displacement and resettlement become not only means to refuse relocation or claim compensation or better conditions, but also help to initiate and become part of a multi-level and multi-sectoral effort to critique and reconceptualise the development process.

  • Experiences of integration: accessing resources in a new society: the case of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers in Milton Keynes

    12 November 2013

    This paper describes a project which explored the integration of unaccompanied minor asylum-seekers and refugees (UMAs) in Milton Keynes (MK). It argues that policy and practice concerning UMAs in MK are ill-defined and inconsistent. Institutional resources already in place are not being fully utilised as UMAs are often an after-thought in the service provision for citizen children. UMAs encounter difficulties in accessing education facilities, and living arrangements do not consistently meet protection requirements. As a result, UMAs frequently experience isolation and confusion about their present and future in the UK. Based on these findings, this paper makes recommendations for policy changes at both the local and the national levels.

  • Addressing the root causes of forced migration: a European Union policy of containment?

    12 November 2013

    This paper examines whether or not European Union (EU) root causes policies are a desirable means to address appropriate ends. It analyzes the ways in which root causes policies interact with primary migration measures in its attempt to understand whether these policies seek to defend the right of people to remain in their country of origin by attenuating causes of departure on normative grounds or prevent and contain conflict to limit the influx of foreigners on its territory. It argues for a deepening and widening of the understanding of development, and for increased autonomy of human rights and conflict prevention policies. Moreover it suggests that the institutional structure of the EU and its multiple overlapping layers of competence and governance pose significant challenges to the effective and coherent co-ordination and implementation of root causes policies.

  • Conceptualising forced migration

    12 November 2013

    To conceptualise something is to construct it rather than to define or describe it. In this way, the metaphorical language used to talk about migration carries with it certain implications for the way we think about, and therefore act towards, migrants. This paper explores the conceptual and practical difficulties involved in separating out forced from unforced migrants, and considers the main categorical distinctions that have emerged over the years within the broader category of forced migrants. These distinctions, like the term ‘forced migrant’ itself, are artifacts of policy concerns, rather than of empirical observation and sociological analysis. This paper suggests that this raises problems, both for the practical relevance of research and for the dialogue between policy makers and advocates in the field of forced migration.

  • Refugees and ‘other forced migrants'

    12 November 2013

    This paper discusses a general problem that arises whenever one attempts to formalise and institutionalise a relatively new field of academic enquiry, such as forced migration, with the aim of having an impact on policy: namely, how to define the subject matter of the field. It argues that the scientific study of forced migration is, paradoxically, less likely to be ‘relevant’ to policy and practice, the more slavishly it follows policy related categories in defining its subject matter. This paper suggests that the main obstacle to what Cernea calls the ‘bridging of the research divide’ (1996) between these different populations of forced migrants is the over-reliance of refugee studies scholars on ad hoc distinctions which have important political and policy implications but which result in categories which are ill-suited both to comparison, and to the observation, description and analysis of empirical data.

  • Financing matters: where funding arrangements meet resettlement in three Mexican dam projects

    12 November 2013

    This paper investigates the implications for resettlement of the financial involvement of the World Bank and a coalition of private companies, in three separate Mexican dam projects in the early 1990s. This paper argues that financing arrangements can influence a project’s resettlement conditions. In two of the projects, the World Bank’s involvement was important in determining the high level of attention paid to resettlement planning and monitoring and the positive resettlement outcomes. In contrast, the lack of resettlement standards among the remaining project’s private sector financiers and the unresponsiveness of this group to pressures for reform on resettlement issues resulted in poor resettlement conditions. In an era of privatisation, the implications of this are serious. As governments turn to the private sector, rather than multi-lateral or bilateral development agencies, for assistance in infrastructure development, the likelihood also increases that the rights and needs of displacees will be marginalised.

  • Narrating displacement: oral histories of Sri Lankan women

    12 November 2013

    This paper examines how traditional discourses on repatriation and the return home have developed, whether they are accurate or appropriate, and subsequently suggests alternative perspectives on return (Black and Koser 1999). In particular, this paper focuses on the resettlement of internally displaced Sri Lankan women to their native villages, and argues that despite physical return, a “generalized condition of homelessness” (Malkki 1992: 37) persists due to physical, social and political forms of violence which obstruct the ability of many women to return ‘home’. It contends that for many Sri Lankan women, resettlement has meant merely the return to their geographical place of origin, and no more. More generally, this paper argues that both scholars of forced migration and the international humanitarian community are working amidst a conceptual framework that has yet to truly comprehend the complexity of experiences involved in return and reintegration.

  • When forced migrants return 'home': the psychosocial difficulties returnees encounter in the reintegration process

    12 November 2013

    Since the 1980s onwards, voluntary repatriation has been promoted by governments, NGOs and UN agencies as the ultimate solution to refugees’ displacement. This paper draws attention to some of the psychosocial difficulties refugee returnees encounter. It argues that forced migrants’ notion of home is continuously challenged and transformed from the time of the events that lead to one’s flight, up until one’s return. The way returnees perceive ‘home’ and the way they define their identity will impact their reintegration process. The objective of this study is not to provide a typology of the meaning of returning home but a hint of its complexity.

  • Refugees and their human rights

    12 November 2013

    This paper was originally presented on the 12th November 2003, as the 2003 Annual RSC Barbara Harrell-Bond Lecture. The paper discusses why, at the level of the individual refugee and asylum seeker, there is a need for a more radical, rights- and protection-oriented approach, and how this can serve the ends of government, provided that government is concerned with fulfilling its international obligations in good faith. It examines two areas which have attracted attention in the United Kingdom, and in which human rights can and ought to influence policy and practice: the treatment of asylum seekers and the interpretation and application of the refugee definition – the criteria that determines whether to grant protection.

  • The meaning of place in a world of movement: lessons from long-term field research in Southern Ethiopia

    12 November 2013

    This is a revised version of the Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture, sponsored by the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford and delivered at Rhodes House, Oxford on 12 May, 2004. Turton discusses the need for a theory of place that applies as much to the world of late modernity as to the pre-modern world, and helps us to understand what happens when pre-modern meets, and is overtaken by, modern. To this end, he examines what are called the ‘spatial practices’ of a small group of people who live in Southern Ethiopia.