The RRN Research Digest provides a synopsis of recent research on refugee and forced migration issues from entities associated with the RRN and others.
You can download the digest in PDF format here: RRN Research Digest No. 57
Recent Publications and New Research
Dennler, K.T. (2018). Re/Making Immigration Policy through Practice: How Social Workers Influence What It Means to Be a Refused Asylum Seeker. Migration and Society 1(1).
Refused asylum seekers living in the UK face hostility and legal restrictions on the basis of immigration status that limit access to statutory support, employment, and social goods. Working at a non-profit organization that offered an advice service for refused asylum seekers, the author observes how the experiences of refused asylum seekers are constituted not simply by restrictions within immigration law, but rather by the ways in which laws are perceived and implemented by a wide range of actors. She argues that the legal consciousness of social workers hostile to refused asylum seekers plays an important role in making policy through practice. She shows that social workers prioritized immigration enforcement over other legal obligations, thereby amplifying the meaning of immigration status and deepening the marginalization of refused asylum seekers. Available for subscribers at:
Pearlman, W. (2019). Becoming a Refugee: Reflections on Self-Understandings of Displacement from the Syrian Case. Review of Middle East Studies, 52(2), 299-309.
International law, government policy, and a range of academic disciplines all demonstrate different approaches to the task of defining who is a refugee. Yet how do refugees define themselves? When, how, and why do they come to identify with this term, or not? This essay offers reflections on these questions based on interviews with hundreds of displaced Syrians in the Middle East and Europe from 2012 to 2018. Syrian experiences illustrate how individuals’ self-understandings as refugees evolve over time as a contingent process not necessarily coterminous with actual physical displacement. It traces how these self-understandings are generated as shifts in three indicative relationships: displaced persons’ relationships to their expectations of return to their homeland; their relationships to their pre-flight lives; and their relationships to the word “refugee” itself. It suggests that one’s self-definition is the product of a process of “becoming” more than “being.” The article is available through the Refugee Section of Review of Middle East Studies Free Access Collection at: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/review-of-middle-east-studies/refugee-section-of-romes-52-2-free-access-collection
Bock, J. J., & Macdonald, S. (Eds.). (2019). Refugees Welcome?: Difference and Diversity in a Changing Germany. Berghahn Books.
The arrival in 2015 and 2016 of over one million asylum seekers and refugees in Germany had major social consequences and gave rise to extensive debates about the nature of cultural diversity and collective life. This volume examines the responses and implications of what was widely seen as the most significant and contested social change since German reunification in 1990. It combines in-depth studies based on anthropological fieldwork with analyses of the longer trajectories of migration and social change. Its original conclusions have significance not only for Germany but also for the understanding of diversity and difference more widely. The book is available at a 25% discount on the paperback until March 31st (use code BOC352 at checkout): https://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/BockRefugees
Ferreira, S. (2018). Human Security and Migration in Europe’s Southern Borders. Palgrave Macmillan.
This book examines the management of migratory flows in the Mediterranean within an international security perspective. The intense migratory flows registered during the year 2015 and the tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea have tested the mechanisms of the Union’s immigration and asylum policies and its ability to respond to humanitarian crises. Moreover, these flows of varying intensities and geographies represent a threat to the internal security of the EU and its member states. By using Spain and Italy as case studies, the author theorizes that the EU, given its inability to adopt and implement a common policy to effectively manage migratory flows on its Southern border, uses a deterrence strategy based on minimum common denominators. More details available at: https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783319779461
Sadek, S. (2019). Understanding the impact of the Libyan Conflict on Egyptian Migrants, The Center for Migration and Refugee Studies.
This is the 11th paper in the series “Cairo Studies on Migration and Refugees”. The paper examines issues related to push factors in Egypt, pull factors in Libya, security and economic hazards behind the return in 2011 and 2014/2015 and the long-term implications of the return of Egyptian migrants. The paper is the first in a series of publications by the center in an attempt to understand the impact of the changes in the regional geopolitical environment on the demand on Egyptian labor. Available at:
Silvius, R. (2019). Work, Social Reproduction, the Transnational Household, and Refugee Resettlement: A Canadian Case Study. Critical Sociology.
This article puzzles out the relationships between displaced peoples, their families, resettlement, the household, employment, and social reproduction – the often voluntary, feminized, and un- or under-compensated labour that reproduces a family, household, or labour force. Transnational refugee households and the conditions of refugee resettlement are co-constituted. These households are: 1) physical dwellings where a family is situated; 2) sites of emotional, care, and additional work required for the reproduction of the (often transnational) family; 3) necessitating ‘material’ inputs, in the form of paid labour, social provisions, or other sources. This article uses Social Reproduction Theory (SRT) to demonstrate the tradeoffs in securing the economic and care resources required for maintaining transnational refugee households. Profiling cases of resettling refugee families in Winnipeg, Canada, the article suggests that ‘small-n’ research reveals the challenges in meeting common resettlement imperatives amid expensive housing markets and restricted access to social and economic resources. Available at:
Reports, briefs and policy papers
Report on the health of refugees and migrants in the WHO European Region: no public health without refugee and migrant health (2018)
This report creates an evidence base with the aim of catalysing progress towards developing and promoting migrant-sensitive health systems in the 53 Member States of the WHO European Region and beyond. It seeks to illuminate the causes, consequences and responses to the health needs and challenges faced by refugees and migrants in the Region, while also providing a snapshot of the progress being made across the Region. Additionally, the report seeks to identify gaps that require further action through collaboration, to improve the collection and availability of high-quality data and to stimulate policy initiatives. Available at: http://www.euro.who.int/en/publications/abstracts/report-on-the-health-of-refugees-and-migrants-in-the-who-european-region-no-public-health-without-refugee-and-migrant-health-2018
Izza Leghtas and Jessica Thea (December 13, 2018) “You Cannot exist in this place”: Lack of registration denies Afghan Refugees protection in Turkey, Refugees International
In September 2018, the Turkish authorities fully transferred responsibility for the registration and processing of asylum applications of non-Syrians from the UNHCR to Turkey’s Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM). Although the transfer had been planned for at least two years, its implementation was sudden and came in the wake of a surge in Afghan arrivals in 2018. In October and November 2018, a Refugees International (RI) team visited Turkey to research the effects of transferring registration and processing operations to the Turkish authorities. Available at:
A Call to Action: Transforming the Global Refugee System
The World Refugee Council was established by the Centre of International Governance Innovation in May 2017 to support the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) and leverage the skills and experiences of its diverse membership in order to realize transformational change for the refugee and IDP systems. This report makes actionable recommendations, with a focus on four key areas: political will, responsibility sharing, financing, and accountability. Among the key recommendations is to: create an independent Global Action Network for the Forcibly Displaced; promote leadership roles for women and youth, thereby giving a voice to more than half of those who are forcibly displaced globally; and hold perpetrators accountable before the law. More available at:
News reports and Blog posts
Kakuma News Reflector
Kakuma News Reflector or KANERE is an independent news magazine produced by Ethiopian, Congolese, Ugandan, Rwandan, Somali, Sudanese and Kenyan journalists operating in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya. It is the first fully independent refugee-run news source of its kind to emerge from a refugee camp. The implementation of an innovative technological application of refugee verification known as Kiosk to Access Services and Information (KASI) has supported communication between refugees and agency staff. The latest issue of 2018 along with more information are available at: www.kanere.org
Irwin Loy, Briefing: How the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh is changing (February 13, 2019), IRIN news.
Nearly 18 months after 700,000 Rohingya fled a violent military crackdown in Myanmar in August 2017, the aid sector finds itself shifting from emergency response to dealing with a protracted crisis. The report addresses some of the biggest issues coming up in delivering aid in city-sized camps, as the crisis continues to evolve and pushes toward a second full year. Such issues include gaps in health services including mental health services, and the lack access to formal education for Rohingya children. Available at: https://www.irinnews.org/analysis/2019/02/13/briefing-how-rohingya-crisis-bangladesh-changing
Digital and social media
Website and video: Superdiversity: Today’s migration has made cities more diverse than ever—in multiple ways By Steven Vertovec, Daniel Hiebert, Alan Gamlen and Paul Spoonley
Over the past few decades, multiple causes and categories of migration – combined with migrants’ new and varying origins – have been transforming urban populations in complex ways, worldwide. The graphics utilized here show us how. These interactive data visualizations help show patterns in data quickly and powerfully and give the ability to interact with the data. They also help foster a wider and more complex understanding of migration and diversity dynamics. In this way, we can come to appreciate that the ‘diversification of diversity’ does not entail chaos, but rather multifaceted and interconnected patterns that represent our changing urban fabric. More available at: www.superdiv.mmg.mpg.de
New Online Resource: Migrant Working Lives website
This website is about international migrants’ experiences in and around work – looking for work, doing work (paid and unpaid), leaving work, or being prevented from working. Currently content only covers migrants’ experiences within parts of England with the hope to expand beyond. The website is hoped to be used as a resource to increase understanding and inform discussion about the diversity of backgrounds, experiences, needs, skills, desires, world-views and contributions to society among people living outside the country of their birth. More available at: https://migrantworkinglives.org/