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The securitisation of forced migration: changing ideas and beliefs about displacement and their impact on security

  • Start date: 01 October 2009
  • End date: 30 November 2012

Why has the problem of displacement gone through a rapid securitisation process over the past two decades?

This puzzle is at the centre of Dr Anne Hammerstad's research programme. If security is, as constructivists argue, what we say it is, why are refugees, asylum seekers and the internally displaced increasingly perceived as threats to security, rather than victims of human rights abuse or deserving recipients of humanitarian charity? Furthermore, if how we describe an issue has an impact on how we respond to it (another tenet of constructivism), what are the consequences of this securitisation for the security of forced migrants themselves; the states and communities receiving them; their sending states; and the humanitarian staff aiding them?

The research programme includes discourse analysis of the ideas and beliefs on forced migration held in the UK, South Africa and India. Another component of the research programme investigates what role ideas and beliefs about displacement play in the creation or fuelling of perceptions of insecurity and their impact on potentially prolonging conflict. Thus, the securitisation of displacement will be studied from a range of angles, from motivations and sources, through processes, to consequences and fall-out.