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.Read more
By Julie Zollmann, Airokhsh Faiz-Qaisary, Kenza Ben-Azouz, Kim Wilson, and Radha Rajkotia. Refugees resettled in the United States are typically supported quite closely early in their transition as support agencies help them settle into new homes, open bank accounts, get their first jobs, and register their children in school. Agencies monitor whether refugees are “self-sufficient,” meaning that their incomes cover their most essential expenses as quickly as possible. However, little is known about the next stage of refugees’ financial and economic transitions, once refugees are no longer interacting regularly with resettlement agencies. In July 2018, we interviewed 29 refugees who had been resettled two to three years earlier to understand the phases of their financial transition and identify possible opportunities to accelerate refugees’ financial gains.Read more
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.Read more
By Padmini Baruah, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. Transnational migration has been one of the most talked-about phenomena of the past decade. With prolonged armed conflict, economic crises, and climate change affecting different parts of the world adversely, it is not a surprise that an estimated 258 million people live in a country that is not the country of their birth.1 Much news has been generated on this subject, and multiple studies have focused on the macro aspects of this issue. However, equally vital is not losing sight of the fact that while broad patterns and theories can explain the macrophenomenon of transnational migration, each migrant’s story is ultimately a subjective and entirely personal lived experience. The powerful contribution of the individual narrative as well as of ethnographic observations to academic studies in this field cannot be overlooked.Read more
By Sarah Carson, under the supervision of Kim Wilson.
Field research is a common and often powerful piece of post-graduate training in international affairs and development. But sending students to the field also comes with risks to both students and study participants. What happens when you send five students abroad to execute Lean Research on their own? What challenges might they encounter, and what innovative solutions could they develop? And what do they learn that could be applied to similar experiences in the future?
By Dan Creamer, under the supervision of Kim Wilson.
Formal employment opportunities are limited in Uganda’s economy, especially for migrants and refugees. Considering these barriers, “volunteer” jobs represent a crucial vehicle for migrants to gain new skills, build their networks, gain access to future opportunities, and even earn reasonable wages. This essay seeks to show the importance of volunteer positions for migrants, how these opportunities differ between Kampala and the Bidi Bidi Refugee Camp, and whether these volunteer opportunities are privileging specific demographic groups.
By Maria Teresa Nagel, under the supervision of Kim Wilson.
When it comes to migration, broad classifications are abundant. Refugees and migrants are often seen as a monolithic mass, which encourages policy makers to essentialize migration as they search for the single solution to this complex phenomenon. Nowhere is this truer than in Tijuana, Mexico, the location of our study. There and elsewhere, immigrants are thought to be driven by the same motivations, threatened by the same risks, and in need of the same remedies. In this essay, I aim to highlight some key differences in the experiences of Central American migrants in Tijuana, focusing on the impact family structure has on migrants’ experiences living in that city.
By Catherine Wanjala, under the supervision of Kim Wilson.
During displacement, families are jolted into new realities. From navigating new foods and new educational opportunities to negotiating a maze of new customs, displaced households struggle to master their unfamiliar surroundings. Opportunities to earn a living also greatly differed from what refugees and migrants had available to them in their countries of origin. Refugees often found these new realities also shifted roles within the family.
This video draws on a case study of Uganda, where refugees move from their early arrival phase to coping long term with economic opportunities and set-backs. The information draws on Fletcher research in Uganda.Read more
Mapping the financial journeys of refugees and asylum seekers in Jordan, and the impact of COVID-19 on the economic livesRead more