Resettling Displaced People: Integration and Security

Friday, February 12, 2016: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Marriott Balcony B (Marriott Wardman Park)
Elizabeth Dunn, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Resettling displaced people is often thought of as a short term need for assistance in finding new homes and jobs and providing for immediate needs.   But comparative research shows that resettlement is a complex process of social reintegration that can take years, and that displaced people often remain in a “permanently temporary” limbo for decades or even generations.  Using ethnographic data from populations displaced from Chechnya in 1944 and South Ossetia in 2008, I define three long-term challenges to socially reintegrating displaced people: restoring identities in the face of stigmatization, re-establishing meaningful attachments to place, and resuming long-term time horizons.   I argue that the funding systems, temporal rhythms and institutional constraints of aid agencies prevent them from effectively dealing with these challenges, thereby stranding refugees and internally displaced people between exodus and resettlement.   Using the Chechen and Ossetian cases, I show how remaining “permanently temporary” and socially marginalized can push displaced people towards organized crime and political violence.