Presentations of TRAFIG colleagues at the 19th IMISCOE conference

From 29th June - 1st July, the European network of migration researchers IMISCOE will hold its (hybrid) conference in Oslo (more here).

The conference theme "Migration and Time: Temporalities of Mobility, Governance, and Resistance" fits very well to the interests and foci of our TRAFIG project. 'Protracted displacement' can indeed be understood as a social phenomenon that is shaped by quite specific spatial and temporal politics. While movements of refugees and IDPs can hardly be prevented, governments of (potential) receiving states try to manage displaced populations though particular spatial strategies (border enforcement, encampment, etc.) and through temporal strategies (short-term humanitarian support, mid-term asylum procedures, etc.). As spatial exclusion dominates and long-term solutions are largely absent, displaced people are constantly forced to wait and have to endure extreme future uncertainty. The figurational approach we applied in our TRAFIG research is a concept well suited to analyse the social figurations of displacement in both its spatial and temporal dimensions (more on this in a shortly upcoming special issue in JEMS).

At this years conference, the TRAFIG team will be present with a number of papers that bring to the fore our conceptual approach, empirical data and analysis.

Networked mobility – socially-bound decisions, capacities and barriers to move out of protracted displacement

Sarah Tobin (CMI), Benjamin Etzold (BICC) and Carolien Jacobs (Leiden University) will present a joint paper in a session on "Migration (decision-making) in conflict settings (Part II)" (Session #126) on Thursday June 30, 14:45 - 16:15. [more on the session here]


After initial moves, many displaced persons live under highly precarious conditions and their future perspectives are strongly constrained. Different forms of mobility such as movements out of camps, return mobility, circular mobility or onward moves to other countries are seen by many as the sole way forward in life. But the decision to move again (or not) is rarely taken in isolation. In contrary, research undertaken in the TRAFIG project, which investigated coping strategies to protracted displacement, showed that mobility decisions after displacement are strongly dependent on the social constellations, in which individuals are embedded. These ‘figurations in displacement’ are decisively shaped by (a) governance regimes of aid and protection that assign displaced persons certain socio-legal positions and places of living, and (b) family and kin relations at places of living and across transnational spaces. Our paper presents empirical findings on ‘networked mobility’ and ‘disconnected immobility’ from research across Western Asia (Pakistan, Jordan), East Africa (Ethiopia, DR Congo) as well as Southern (Italy, Greece) and Western Europe (Germany). An analysis of survey (n=1900) results is complemented by in-depth case studies of individuals whose translocal relations and mobilities helped them to ‘move out’ of protractedness, or who remained ‘stuck’ in precarious conditions due to immobilising effects of governance regimes or social disconnections.

Time and temporalities in transnational family figurations under conditions of displacement

Former BICC-colleague Simone Christ, now at the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS), will give a paper presentation in session 193 on "Temporalities of transnational families" on Friday July 1, 09:00 - 10:30. [more on the session here]


This presentation will focus on the temporalities of transnational family figurations of refugees, bringing together discussions on times and temporalities (Griffiths et al. 2013) with transnational families (Merla et al. 2021, Bryceson & Vuorela 2002, Sauer et al. 2021) and a figurational approach (Elias 1978). Our recent empirical study of family figurations in displacement in the framework of the TRAFIG (Transnational Figurations of Displacement) project showed that displaced people are embedded in different family figurations, which evolve and transform under time. If one parent of a family embarks on an irregular journey alone, the family transforms into the figuration of a “transnationally separated family” in which family members live in different places for an indefinite time. If after arrival in countries such as Germany family reunification is successful, separated families may transform into the “figuration of reunited nuclear families”. If not, the separation can become protracted. Family figurations vary considerably with regards to time. Whereas the transformation into a separated family might appears rapidly, as a family member is forced to flee, the separation due to unsuccessful attempts of family reunification (e.g. for Eritreans) can endure for a long period. Time is decelerated and the outlook into the future insecure; anxious waiting and rising hope alternate with recurring disappointments. Family members experience ambiguous dimensions of time: Whereas on the one hand, time is decelerated, on the other hand, life-cycle time passes too quickly - the lost time of separation between children and their parents cannot be made up for again.

Revisiting the Migration-Development Nexus from a Cross-Border Perspective

Benjamin Etzold will contribute to workshop session #94 taking place on Thursday June 30, 10:45 - 12:15. [more on the session here]

The workshop aims to introduce and expand ways in which our combined expertise in the field of im/mobilities, translocal livelihoods, border communities, migration regimes, displacement dynamics and restructuring of local and regional governance could provide valuable input for addressing the migration-development nexus.

Latest news

Special Issue in JEMS

Unsettling Protracted Displacement: Connectivity and Mobility beyond Limbo

Key results and reflections from the TRAFIG project have just been published in a special issue in the Journal of Ethnic a... Read more

TRAFIG practice note no. 12

In the shoes of a Congolese refugee:

Online game helps to understand urban refugees' legal struggles

The TRAFIG team developed an interactive story-based online simulation to sensitise practitione... Read more

TRAFIG practice note no. 11

The missing link

Promoting refugees’ skills-based mobility within Europe

The Common European Asylum System prohibits the mobility of persons entitled to international protection within the European Union, making it more difficult for displaced persons to rebuild their lives even after arriving in Europe and receiving protection status. Recent developments soften this strict policy of immobility for some. In this context, intra-EU mobility based on refugees’ skills could become a game-changer. The tools are there. What is needed now is to connect these initiatives so that more displaced persons can use their skills for their benefit and that of receiving countries. Read more