Old concepts making new history: refugee self-reliance, livelihoods and the ‘refugee entrepreneur’
Claudia Skran , Evan Easton-Calabria
Although not new topics in the field of refugee studies, self-reliance, livelihoods and entrepreneurship have recently taken on a heightened emphasis. However, critical questions remain regarding how and by whom self-reliance is defined and measured, and the intended and unintended outcomes of historical and contemporary efforts to foster it. This introductory article highlights key points arising from the Special Issue and presents a short history of the evolution of the concept of self-reliance in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including its linkage to livelihoods. The article then discusses contemporary connections between self-reliance and entrepreneurship vis-à-vis the promotion of the ‘refugee entrepreneur’. It concludes with a brief overview of the articles and themes in the issue. Overall, the article argues for an expanded definition of refugee self-reliance that promotes social as well as economic components and moves beyond narrowly implemented programmes targeting individual and market-based solutions.