The Financial Journey of Refugees: Evidence from Greece, Jordan, and Turkey

A full report, executive summary, and a compendium of field notes, by Kim Wilson and Roxanne Krystalli. The Financial Journeys of Refugees investigates what money and financial transactions can reveal about the journeys and experiences of forced migration. We examine money as a key node of the displacement experience: fueling transactions among formal and informal actors along the way; determining livelihood options; shaping or restructuring kinship networks; and coloring risks, vulnerabilities, or protective forces available to refugees. Our inquiry highlights these transactions and the power dynamics that unfold among refugees as well as between refugees and formal or informal authorities.

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Origins Breed Commonalities, Camaraderie, and Conflict

By Aastha Dua and Subin Mulmi, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. The authors observed the South Asian identity play out in interesting and diverse ways among the migrants interviewed. The dynamic between the general populations of these countries—oscillating between brotherly love, jealousy, and rivalry—was reflected in full, as if in a microcosm, among the South Asian migrants traveling to America in their interactions with each other. This essay is an attempt to describe this dynamic, culled from the interviews that were conducted by the authors with the migrants and from their own observations in the CATEMs (Temporary Care Centers for Migrants) and the surrounding areas in Costa Rica.

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Language Isolation on the Migrant Trail

By Charlie Bentley, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. I connected to most migrants I interviewed using the same first casual topic: “I’m struggling to get around without Spanish. What about you?” Despite having the help of two Spanish-speaking colleagues, I still found that traveling through Colombia without Spanish language skills was an immense challenge.

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In Adjusting to New Labor Markets, Migrants Draw on Past Experience and Retain a Strong Sense of Pride in Being Able to Contribute

By Conor Sanchez, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. Popular notions of migrants as unskilled or uneducated laborers, while sometimes true, are often false. Their jobs back home may not have always ensured adequate income, a factor that could have played a role in their decision to migrate, but they often required some technical knowledge or training. Our subjects had worked as photographers, teachers, accountants, sociologists, and business owners. Some were property owners, tending to farms and livestock or selling various kinds of merchandise out of their home. In many of the interviews, it also became apparent that these jobs had clearly formed an unshakeable part of their identity.

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Migrants Hold onto Their Religious Identities for Emotional Support and to Build Networks Crucial to Their Journeys

By Lea Abi Zeid Daou and Nidhisha Philip, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. Writings on why religion is of significance to individual migrants have explored themes of religion as a reason for migration, religion as a means of sustenance in difficult circumstances, religion as an identity marker in new socio-cultural contexts, and religion as a source of reconciliation and healing. In this essay, we explore some of these same themes, basing our insights on interviews with trans-continental migrants traveling through Costa Rica and bound for the north.

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What Can Hotels Teach Us about Smuggling?

By Maria Teresa Nagel, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. There is limited research describing the smuggling industry and its actors, particularly in Central America. Our study hopes to address this knowledge gap by disclosing how human smugglers lodge their clients and the role hotels play in the smuggling ecosystem.

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