Rethinking Refugee Self-Reliance
Evan Easton-Calabria , Claudia Skran
The aim of this Special Issue is to rethink and critically examine the concept of refugee self-reliance and assess its relationship with the broader topics of livelihoods and entrepreneurship for refugees.1 In so doing, it seeks to contribute to the existing body of literature critically assessing the provenance, practice and implications of refugee self-reliance and efforts to foster it. An outgrowth of a workshop on refugee self-reliance held in June 2017 (sponsored by the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford), this collection of articles includes, by design, diverse perspectives on the practice, theory and history of refugee self-reliance. The authors include both individual researchers (Capri, Easton-Calabria, Skran), research teams (Betts et al.; Field et al.; Krause and Schmidt) and members of humanitarian and policy organizations (Wake and Barbelet, Embiricos, Leeson et al., Meral, Slaughter). At the workshop, the group began by addressing a series of questions to appraise the dominant ahistorical and acritical approach to refugee self-reliance: (i) What is self-reliance for refugees and how has it been defined over time? (ii) How does self-reliance connect to strategies for durable solutions, such as livelihoods and entrepreneurship? (iii) How can self-reliance be measured and positive outcomes achieved in both theory and practice? (iv) How do refugees perceive their own self-reliance and international institutional efforts to foster it? (v) Is self-reliance an exit strategy for donors?