Research | Patterns of (Forced) Migration

Displacement is one of the most pressing social, political and economic issues of our time. The most recent figures from UNHCR show that over 60 million people are currently fleeing war, climate change-induced natural disasters, or political repression. Contrary to popular rhetoric, most displaced, the majority of whom are internally displaced, remain in the Global South and do not cross the borders of Europe or North America. Moreover, the common understanding of forced migration tends to be overly simplistic– denying any agency for people on the move. Considering the multifaceted motivations of migrants, the distinction between forcibly displaced and ‘irregular migrants’ is blurred. The reasons why and how people move from A to B (and back again) are embedded in and affected by local, national, regional and international interrelations, institutions, social networks and technologies.

This cluster is interested in understanding the different forms, causes and consequences of migration within specific contexts. A key objective for our research is to discern patterns of (forced) migration in and from the Global South at different levels of abstraction. From a macro perspective, ABI researchers study the socio-political context of migration governance of countries affected by significant population movements. At a meso-level, researchers are interested in understanding the relationship between migration and conflict, including conflict over scarce goods and natural resources. From a micro perspective, the cluster considers the motivations and perspectives of migrant agency within given contexts and movements. The research also contributes to the conceptualisation of migration patterns, including the degree of voluntariness in the return to countries of origin.



The Politics of Migration Governance in the Gambia,  ABI Pilot Study

Institutionalisation and Agency in Return Migration: Political Concepts and Migrants’ Realities in the case of returning Gambians, PhD Judith Altrogge

Climate Change and Urban Political Violence, PhD Erik Plänitz

Violence against male refugees – patterns, factors and consequences for individuals and communities, PhD Cita Wetterich



Wetterich, Cita (2018), Gendered security perspectives of the refugee “crisis” in the British and German Media: a securitization of gender?, ABI Working Paper Series No.9. Freiburg.

Zanker, Franzisca (2018), The Gambia: a haven for refugees? Forced Migration Review, 57, pp. 74-76.

Plänitz, Erik (2017), Fixed on the Rural - Neglecting the Urban? Reviewing spatial disparities in Climate Change – Conflict Literature, ABI Working Paper Series No.6. Freiburg.

Zanker, Franzisca (2017), The Politics of EU and African Migration Governance: From Rhetoric to Practice,’ ABI Working Paper Series No.5. Freiburg.

Zanker, Franzisca, and Judith Altrogge (2017), ‘The Politics of Migration Governance in the Gambia’. Freiburg: Arnold Bergstraesser Institute, October.

Sebastian Prediger and Franzisca Zanker, Why European Migration Policies on Africa need a Change of Direction (December 2016) - GIGA Fokus Afrika (in German)


In the media (selection)

Judith Altrogge, Rückkehr von Migranten nach Gambia: Die junge Demokratie darf nicht überstrapaziert werden (October 2017) – Flüchtlingsforschungsblog (in German)

Franzisca Zanker, Returning migrants to The Gambia: the political, social and economic costs (October 2017) - The Conversation

Judith Altrogge, Nach dem Regierungswechsel in Gambia paart sich nun Hoffnung mit Ungeduld  (July 2017) - Badische Zeitung (in German)

Franzisca Zanker, Flüchtlingskrise in Afrika. Das größte Flüchtlingslager der Welt in Kenia soll geschlossen werden (February 2017) - Badische Zeitung (in German)

Franzisca Zanker (mit Sebastian Prediger), Weg vom Eurozentrismus! Ein Plädoyer für eine nachhaltige EU-Migrationspolitik in Afrika (January 2017) - Flüchtlingsforschungsblog (in German)

Franzisca Zanker, We should create more legal migration (January 2017) -  Süddeutsche, The Guardian, Le Monde


Public lectures (selection)

Flüchtlingsströme in Afrika – Ursachen, Folgen und Perspektiven, Lecture Series Welt der Konflikte, University Mainz, 7th Februar 2018 (Franzisca Zanker)

Presentation of Policy Report "The Politics of Migration Governance in the Gambia", in Cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Senegal/ Gambia, 29th January - 2nd February 2018 (Judith Altrogge)

Flucht, Migration und Remigration in Afrika, Afrika – ein Kontinent im Umbruch, Akademie Für Politische Bildung Tutzing, 17th November 2017 (Judith Altrogge)


Cluster events

Housing and integrating refugees: Innovative Best Practices From Around The Globe; Freiburg, 12. -13. April 2018

Armed Conflict in Africa: Legal and Political Measures for Protecting Displaced People and Preventing Forced Migration; 44th African Law Association Annual Conference, 10th -11th November 2017

Transregional Migration, Mobility and Forced Displacement: Moving Beyond Methodological Nationalism; Jahrestagung CrossArea Verein, 9th -10th November 2017

7th European Conference on African Studies ECAS 2017, 29th June- 1st July 2017
- Paper: “The Politics of EU-AU Migration Management: From Rhetoric to Practice” in Creating Common Understanding - EU-Africa Responses to Urban Challenges
- Panel: “The Role of Networks in Rural-Urban-Transnational Encounters: The Mobility of People, Ideas and Spaces

FREINEM Workshop, „Selbstreflexion: Ethische Verantwortung und Öffentlichkeitswirksamkeit in der Migrationsforschung“, 12th June 2017