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

Researcher: Jesper Bjarnesen
Project started February 1, 2016

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.

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