Patterns of (Forced) Migration

Migration is one of the most prominent social, political and economic questions of our time. The most recent figures from UNHCR show that over 68 million people are currently forcibly displaced, often fleeing war and conflict, political repression, colonial occupation, and ‘natural’ disasters, many of which are induced by climate breakdown. Contrary to popular Eurocentric rhetoric, most people who are experiencing displacement live and stay in the Global South, with the majority displaced within their own country. While these statistics denote those ‘forcibly’ displaced, researchers are increasingly questioning the distinction between ‘forced’ and ‘voluntary’ migration. They recognise that many of the almost 250 million people who live outside of their country of birth make migration decisions for multiple, interlocking reasons, embedded in and affected by local, national, regional and international interrelations, institutions, social networks and technologies. Many ‘economic migrants’ are forced to flee due to extreme poverty, while many ‘forced migrants’ become integrated in the economies of their host states.

Accordingly, ABI researchers within this cluster focus on different forms of migration, whether officially labelled as ‘forced,’ ‘voluntary,’ ‘regular,’ or ‘irregular,’ while at the same time questioning these labels, for example by interrogating the ‘voluntariness’ of movements from, within and back to countries of origin. They aim to understand the different forms, causes and consequences of migration within different contexts, and the varied state and non-state responses to the movement of peoples. A key objective of our research is to discern patterns of (forced) migration in, from and back to the Global South at different levels of abstraction. From a macro perspective, ABI researchers study the migration governance of countries hosting ‘refugees’ and ‘economic migrants’ by examining international, state, and non-state actors’ responses. At a meso-level, researchers are interested in understanding the relationship between displacement, migration and conflict. From a micro perspective, with an awareness that the agency of refugees and migrants is often erased, the cluster considers the motivations and perspectives of people on the move, and how they survive, mobilise, and resist the policies to which they are subject.

Contact: Franzisca Zanker



Displacement in Africa: The Politics and Stakeholders of Migration Governance

The Political Economy of West African Migration Governance (WAMiG)

MIASA IFG 1: The role of non-state actors in transnational and regional migration governance


PhD Research

The Agency of Refugees in Turkey's Changing Migration Regime (Working Title Dilshad Muhammad)

Climate Change and Urban Political Violence (Working Title Erik Plänitz)

Violence against male refugees – patterns, factors and consequences for individuals and communities (Working Title Cita Wetterich)


Publications (selection)

Lewis Turner (2019), The Politics of Labeling Refugee Men as 'Vulnerable', Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society, online first (open access via this link)

Zanker, Franzisca/ Altrogge, Judith (2019), The Political Influence of Return: From Diaspora to Libyan Transit Returnees, in: International Migration, 57(4), pp. 167-180.

Antje Missbach (2018), Flucht in den Knast, Welt-Sichten, November

Stefan Rother (2018) The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) as a venue of “state socialization”: A stepping stone for multi-layered migration governance?, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies early view

Cita Wetterich (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.


In the media (selection)

Lewis Turner, Three Years of the Jordan Compact: The (Gendered) Challenges of Providing Work Permits for Syrian Refugees (July 2019) - LSE Middle East Centre Blog

Stefan Rother, Neue Wege der Entwicklungspolitik (September 2018) – Scobel  (in German)

Lewis Turner, Demonising Children at US and European Borders (July 2018) – Al-Jazeera Online

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


Cluster events (selection)

WAMIG Dissemination Events: Banjul, Gambia 4 July 2019; Abuja, Nigeria 8 July 2019; Niamey, Niger 18 September 2019; Dakar, Senegal, 7 November 2019.

MIASA Interdisciplinary Fellows Group on Migration, Mobility and Forced Displacement Closing Conference, University of Ghana, 23 -24th May 2019.

Presidential Regulation No 125 of 2016 on the Treatment of Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Indonesia: Opportunities and Challenges, Universitas Indonesia, Depok, 20 -21 March 2019

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

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


Public lectures (selection)

The political economy of West African migration governance, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), 19 July 2019 (Franzisca Zanker)

Exploring Gendered ‘Vulnerability’: Syrian Refugee Men and Humanitarianism in Urban Jordan, University of Oxford Refugee Studies Centre Public Seminar, 6 March 2019 (Lewis Turner)

Der „Migrationspakt“ der Vereinten Nationen: Eine globale Antwort auf eine globale Herausforderung? Urania Berlin, 21 January 2019 (Stefan Rother)

State-sanctioned smuggling of asylum seekers back to Indonesia? Illegality within Australia's border protection and deterrence strategies, Forschungskolloquium Ethnologie, Universität, Luzern, 31 October 2018 (Antje Missbach)


Conference Presentations (selection)

The Masculinities of Humanitarianism, British International Studies Association (BISA) Annual Conference, London, 12-14 June 2019 (Lewis Turner)

External and Internal Pressures for Refugee Protection: Refugees as Political Pawns in Migration Regimes? 8th European Conference on African Studies, Edinburgh,12 July 2019 (Franzisca Zanker)

Turning down the heat: (mis-) representation of African migration in the media and the role of researcher, 8th European Conference on African Studies, Edinburgh, 13 July 2019 (Franzisca Zanker, Chair)

Gender, Resilience, and Syrian Refugees in the Jordanian Labour Market, Conference: Between Institutional Resilience to the Syrian Refugee Crisis and the Resilience of Syrian Refugees, Middle East Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science, 7-8 March 2019 (Lewis Turner)