Forced Migration Studies: Could We Agree Just to 'Date'?

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This essay questions the soundness of a scholarly shift away from 'refugee studies' in favour of 'forced migration studies'. It contends, first, that subsuming refugee studies into the broader framework of forced migration studies may result in a failure to take account of the specificity of the refugee's circumstances which are defined not just by movement to avoid the risk of harm, but by underlying social disfranchisement coupled with the unqualified ability of the international community to respond to their needs. Second, it argues that forced 'migration' (rather than, for example, forced 'migrant') studies encourages a focus on a phenomenon rather than on the personal predicaments, needs, challenges, and rights of refugees themselves. It may thus contribute to a lack of criticality in relation to policies which subordinate refugee autonomy to the pursuit of more systemic concerns. The first concern is illustrated by reference to the emergence of the 'internally displaced persons' category, the second by reference to the determination to find and mandate 'durable solutions' to forced migration, including to the movement of refugees.


This article is freely available to read from the publisher.