TRAFIG working paper no. 10

Figurations of Displacement in and beyond Germany

Empirical findings and reflections on mobility and translocal connections of refugees living in Germany

This working paper presents the findings of the empirical research on the role of connectivity and mobility for displaced people in Germany in the framework of the TRAFIG project. The findings are based on qualitative fieldwork in Germany, with 73 qualitative interviews with displaced people and experts in the field.

This working paper uses a figurational perspective; figurations are characterised as dynamic social constellations which emerge in the context of displacement between displaced people and state and other actors at the local, translocal and transnational scale. This working paper discusses the figurations of displacement in which refugees in Germany are embedded.

Our analysis demonstrates the importance of family figurations in displacement, among them the “figuration of a transnationally separated family”, “figuration of the jointly displaced family”, or the “figuration of the transnationally extended family”. Family figurations are deeply intertwined with local and transnational bureaucratic figurations, which structure the experiences of refugees. Bureaucratic figurations evolve with respect to German authorities, those of the countries of origin and other local actors. Despite the significance of family figurations, connectivity is not restricted to it. Refugees are also connected within non-kin figurations, such as within an “ethnic network-based” or “volunteer-refugee” figuration.

The analytical category of figurations provides valuable insights into how displaced people embedded in certain social constellations can best be supported. It shows that transnational life is a reality for displaced persons and an integral part of their everyday lives. As the German case demonstrates, displaced people use mobility and connectivity as a way out of protracted displacement.

Authors: Simone Christ, Benjamin Etzold, Gizem Güzelant, Mara Puers, David Steffens, Philipp Themann, Maarit Thiem

Cite as: Christ, S. et al. (2021). Figurations of Displacement in and beyond Germany—Empirical findings and reflections on mobility and translocal connections of refugees living in Germany (TRAFIG working paper no. 10). Bonn: BICC. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.5841892

You can download TRAFIG working paper no. 10 here.

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