The Nordic Africa Institute


Invisible Displacements. Between Labour Migration and Forced Displacement in the Burkina Faso - Côte d'Ivoire Transnational Space Space

Started • 01 February 2016
Ended • 01 December 2019

The overall objective of this project is to provide an ethnographic analysis of
involuntary mobilities that take place outside the purview of state bureaucracies and humanitarian agencies, thereby shifting the focus from the administrative categories of "refugees" and "internally displaced persons" towards ethnographies of invisibly displaced persons.

Whether formally categorized as refugees or not, migrants experience varying degrees of vulnerability and insecurity in relation to their mobilities. Even within families or households, the relative experience of displacement, as well as the implications for livelihood options and prospects for well-being, may differ significantly between individual family members in ways that are generally overlooked.

These dynamics of "internal" experiences of displacement within families or
households tend to remain invisible to outside observers as well as to neighbours and even to family members themselves, hidden below the surface of family cohesion and respectability. The dynamics of such processes are difficult to place into generic categories of conventional views, for example of women and children as disenfranchised in relation to adult men.

Rather, this project studies the specific processes of empowerment and disempowerment empirically, through in-depth interviews and participant observation, potentially informing humanitarian policy making and broadening the understandings of academic research on forced displacement.