Modules Notes for The Orientation Course on Forced Migration 2013

Module A /  Module B /  Module C /  Module D /  Module E /  Module F 

Module A

Partitions, Borders, and Forced Migration: Refugee Recognition, Status Determination, Relief, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement

(Concept Note, and Suggested Readings)


Concept Note


While partition evidently upsets and shatters the pre-existing ‘ways of life’, it also gradually becomes ‘a way of life’ itself as people are forced to ‘select’ their nations and states ‘naturally’. One partition creates and hides many other partitions. In South Asia, at one level, instead of mitigating the Hindu-Muslim divide, it has sharpened and exacerbated it. At another level, it turns us away from what is called the ‘denationalized peoples’ perspective’— including the gender perspective on that epochal event. Now that the ethnicities and nationalities within each nation-state have become relatively free from the control of nation-states— owing to the forces and processes of globalization— their assertions too are couched in the demand for partition. The demand for partition re-enacts the territoriality of the nation-state as much as the demand also subverts it.


Partition also imposes on the people the obligation of making a choice from out of a menu of nations being partitioned or national alternatives. Non-national alternatives are clearly ruled out. One is obliged to belong to either of the two newly formed nations and cannot choose to remain stateless and without any nation in the wake of a partition. At the same time, partition is not an end in itself. Partition gives rise to a sort of sub-territoriality: a space situated within the territory of a state that has been for all practical purposes rendered ethnically homogeneous by one particular community or an organization claiming to represent it. Sub-territoriality also contests state territoriality.


Today multi-ethnic states are a global phenomenon and South Asia is no exception. Yet rising nationalisms the world over is privileging certain groups while others are being marginalized. A concrete example of this phenomenon can be found in the laws created by the states after what is now patently mythologized as 9/11. The attack on the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001 became the raison d’être to enact many laws and treaties that severely curtail the movement of people in search of a better life and keep them trapped in precarious and often dangerous situations. Specific examples can be given from the US, Canadian, Australian and Indian contexts to illustrate how these new laws affect migrants. These laws, taken together, create a climate of intolerance towards immigrants and other migrants, especially people of colour resulting in racist attacks, endangering their physical and psychological security. Xenophobia and intolerance tear away at the fabric of all (and especially multicultural) societies. South Asia is by no means unique in its response to 9/11 and indeed it is not the worst amongst the regions of the world. However, when the rights of marginalized people are trampled upon to secure an imagined security, the rights of all citizens are at risk.


The category of forced migrants complicates the situation even further. While resource crunch, political choice, imperatives of national security and developmental paradigms are creating greater vulnerabilities and swelling the ranks of marginalized people, the walls of the nations are growing taller against those who are considered different/aliens. Faced with increasingly xenophobic states, the marginalized masses are either forced to remain within a state system that dispossess them or embark on dangerous migrations that can reduce them to near-slave situations and even cost them their lives.


This is the predicament that a course on forced migration today has to deal with. In this perspective laws, policies, and institutions on R&R will be discussed thoroughly.


The theme paper will focus on emerging issues in forced migration studies and the methodological implications for studying them.


Suggested Readings


1.   Ranabir Samaddar (ed.), Refugees and the State (Sage Publications, 2003), chapters 1-3, 6, 9.

2.   Ranabir Samaddar, The Marginal Nation (Sage Publications, 1999), chapters 1-4, 13.

3.   Paula Banerjee, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury and Samir Das, Internal Displacement in South Asia: The Relevance of UN Guiding Principles, Sage, New Delhi, 2005.

4.   P.R. Chari, Mallika Joseph, Suba Chandran, (eds.) Missing Boundaries: Refugees, Migrants, Stateless and Internally Displaced Persons in South Asia, Manohar, New Delhi, 2003.

5.   B.S. Chimni, ‘The Birth of a ‘Discipline’: From Refugee to Forced Migration Studies’, Vol. 22, Journal of Refugee Studies, 2009.

6.   Itty Abraham, ‘Refugees and Humanitarianism’, No. 24-26, Refugee Watch, 2005.

7.   Michael Alexander, ‘Refugee Status Determination Conducted by UNHCR’, Vol. 11, International Journal of Refugee Law, 1999.

8.   Alexander Betts, Louise Bloom and Naohiko Omata, ‘Humanitarian Innovation and Refugee Protection’, No. 85, Working Paper Series, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, 2012.

9.   Janna Webels, ‘Sexual Orientation in Refugee Status Determination’, No. 74, Working Paper Series, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, 2011.

10.  Anne Staver, ‘Family Reunification: A Rights for Forced Migrants?’, No. 51, Working Paper Series, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, 2008.

11.  Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, ‘Refugees and Their Human Rights’, No. 17, Working Paper Series, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, 2004.

12.  David Turton, ‘Conceptualizing Forced Migration’, No. 12, Working Paper Series, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, 2003.



Link for Additional Reading List:






Module B

Gender Dimensions of Migration: Vulnerabilities, and Issues of Social Justice

(Concept Note, and Suggested Readings)


Concept Note


This module is meant to portray that migration and asylum is a gendered experience. At least in the context of South Asia it results from and is related to the marginalization of women by the South Asian states. These states at best patronize women and at worse infantilize, disenfranchise and de-politicize them. It is in the person of a migrant that a women’s marginality reaches its height. One way of marginalizing women from the body politic is done by targeting them and displacing them in times of state-versus-community conflict. As a migrant, a woman loses her individuality, subjectivity, citizenship and her ability to make political choices. As political non-subjects, women emerge as the symbol of difference between us/citizens and its other/refugees/non-citizens/migrants.


Seen from another perspective, resource crunch the world over is creating large groups of pauperized people who are unable to access national resources. These groups include in the context of South Asia, ethnic, religious and caste minorities. When certain groups get poorer, the impact of pauperization is the greatest on the women of such a group. Therefore, everywhere women are swelling the ranks of migrant labour. They are the least paid as often they are the least organized. Their vulnerabilities are making them attractive recruits to labour cartels and traffickers. Also their visibility in the labour markets is making them competitors in the scramble for the paltry resources existing for unskilled labour. In this competition they are becoming targets of violence. In fact, violence itself is getting more sexualized and feminized. Sexual and structural violence is rampant as the infrastructure is yet to be created which could accommodate or facilitate the lives of labouring women. Faced with this dual violence, poor women are getting more and more exploited— so much so that traditional forms of income generation through bar dancing, sex work, employment in overseas sex industries and mail-order brides are becoming preferred options for many. But even these options come with no insurance and can put women at greater risks.


There is another aspect to women’s migration and this has to do with women’s employment in the informal sector. Often poverty, war, hunger, persecution is driving women away from South Asia into the swelling domestic labour market of rich countries. With increasing number of women entering white-collar or professional job markets, they are dependent on poor women for domestic labour. These women from the global South are becoming nurses, wet nurses and maids the world over. Even this industry is low paying and thoroughly exploitative. Many of these women fall prey to traffickers. Sexual harassment seems to dog their steps. Away from family or informal networks of support, these women become extremely vulnerable. The state seldom steps in to save these women because they cannot even exercise their right of complaint knowing one such complaint will close all doors of opportunities. Therefore with the increase in the number of women migrants, their vulnerabilities also multiply, thereby making them the most exploited section among the migrants.


The theme paper in this module will address the issue of a feminist research methodology in forced migration studies.

Suggested Readings

Books: (CRG publications in bold)

1.   Paula Banerjee and Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury, Women in Indian Borderlands, Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2011.
2.   Paula Banerjee, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury and Samir Das, Internal Displacement in South Asia, Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2005.
B.S. Chimni, International Refugee Law – A Reader, Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2003. 
Ritu Menon and Kamla Bhasin, Borders and Boundaries: Women in India’s Partition, New Delhi, 1998. 
Urvashi Bhutalia, The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India , Delhi : 1998. 
Ritu Menon (ed.), No Women’s Land: Women from Pakistan, India and Bamgladesh write on the Partition of India, Women Unlimited, New Delhi , 2004. 
7.   Ranabir Samaddar (ed.), Refugees and the State, Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2003.
8.   Ranabir Samaddar, The Marginal Nation, Sage Publications, New Delhi , 1999.
Jasodhara Bagchi and Subhoranjan Dasgupta, eds., The Trauma and the Triumph: Gender and Partition in Eastern India, Vol.1, Stree, Kolkata, 2003. 
10. -------------------, The Trauma and the Triumph: Gender and Partition in Eastern India, Vol.11, Stree, Kolkata, 2009.

Web-based References


A. Selected Articles from REFUGEE WATCH, a South Asian Journal Published by CRG


1.   Gladston Xavier  and Florina Benoit, “Security among the Refugees and Quality of Life - Case of the Sri Lanka Tamil Refugees Living in Camps in Tamil Nadu”, Refugee Watch, No.37, June 2011, pp.1-15.
2.   Anita Ghimire, “Rethinking Women in Forced Migration”, Refugee Watch, No.37, June 2011, pp.30-43.
3.   Paula Banerjee, “Agonies and Ironies of War,” Refugee Watch, No. 2, April, 1998.
4.   Paula Banerjee, “Women and Forced Migration”, Refugee Watch, No. 10, 2000
5.   Mekno Kaapanda and Sherene Fenn, “Dislocated Subjects: The Story of Refugee Women”, Refugee Watch, 10 & 11, 2000.
6.   Kate de Rivero, “War and Its Impact on Women in Sri Lanka”, Refugee Watch, 10 & 11, 2000.
7.   Arpita Basu Roy, Afghan Women In Iran”, Refugee Watch, 10 & 11, 2000.
8.   Jagat Achariya,, “Refugee Women of Bhutan”,  Refugee Watch, 10 & 11, 2000.
9.   “Rohingya Women – Stateless and Oppressed in Burma”, Refugee Watch, 10 & 11, 2000.
10. Manju Chattopadhyay, “Widows of Brindaban: Memories of Partition”, Refugee Watch, 10 & 11, 2000.
11. Syed Sikander Mehdi, “Chronicles of Suffering – Refugee Women of South Asia”, Refugee Watch, 10 & 11, 2000.
12. Paula banerjee, “Dislocating the Women and Making the Nation”, Refugee Watch 14, 2001. 
13. Soma Ghosal, “An Endless Journey: The Plight of Afghan Refugee Women”, Refugee Watch, 5& 6, 1999.
14. Letters from a Palestinian Refugee Camp, Refugee Women”, Refugee Watch 19, 2003.
15. Kaushikee, “Common and Specific Features of Displaced Women”, Refugee Watch 21, 2004.
16. Oishik Sircar, “Women's Rights, Asylum Jurisprudence and the Crises of International Human Rights Interventions”, Refugee Watch 28, 2006.
17Asha Hans, Gender, Camps and International Norms”, Refugee Watch 32, 2008.
18. Elizabeth Snyder, “Build Back Better – Hurricane Katrina in Socio-Gender Context”, Refugee Watch, 31, 2008.
19. Report of Rapid Assessment Survey on Displaced Bhutanese Refugees from the Camps, Discussion paper, Refugee Watch 31, 2008.

To Acess and Download the above Articles (Except First Two) Please Visit our Website


B. Selected References from Policies and Practices (CRG publications)

1.  Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury and Ishita Dey “Citizens, Non- citizens and the Camp Lives”, Policies and Practices 21, 2009.
2.  Nilanjan Dutta, Dulali Nag and Biswajit Roy, “Unequal Communication: Health and Disasters as issues of Public Sphere”, Policies and Practices 5, 2005.

To Acess and Download the above Articles Please Visit our Website


C. Selected Report Published by CRG

1. A report on Voices of Internally Displaced Persons in South Asia, CRG, Kolkata, 2006,

D. Other Relevant Articles and Websites

1.  Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury, “Violence, Victim hood and Minority Women: The Gujarat Violence of 2002”, Lipi Ghosh (ed.), Political Governance and Minority Rights: The South and Southeast Asian Scenario, Routledge, New Delhi, 2009, PP.44-64. 
2.  ______________, “Women after Partition: Remembering the Lost World in a Life without Future” in Navnita Chadha Behera (ed.), Gender, Conflict and Migration, Sage, New Delhi, 2006, pp. 155-174. 
3.  Cassandra Balchin, “United against the UN: The UN Gender Mission Attitude towards Afghan Women Refugees Within its Own Rank is Glaringly Hypocritical,” Newsline,April, 1998.
4.  Denise Militzer, Disaster and Gender: The Indian Ocean Tsunami and the Sri Lankan Women, April 2008,
5.  UNHCR Policy on Refugee Women,  
6.  Select UNICEF Policy Recommendation on the Gender Dimensions of Internal Displacement,  
7.  CEDAW:  




Module C

Legal Regimes for Protection of the Victims of Forced Migration: Refugees, IDPs, and the Stateless Population Groups

(Concept Note, and Suggested Readings)


Concept Note


This module will deal with the national, regional and global legalities of refugee rights, focusing on developing a critical understanding of the history and politics of the international protection regime, which includes questions of citizenship, state accountability, the transnational forced migrant subjectivity and representation, and asylum jurisprudence. The context in which the idea of refuge or asylum is to be understood in contemporary times is provided by the general global recession, the changing landscape of migration as a result, the unashamed manner in which certain states have announced that they are not bound to fulfill their obligations under international refugee law and the events involving individuals such as Snowden and Assange where seemingly, the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees is unable to to deal with.


The 1951 Convention is a remarkable document; emerging out of the cold war, it provided a framework that would bind states to their primary responsibility of protecting refugees and lead them – by way of articulating the refugee “law” and in practice upholding values of the rule of law and due process - in ensuring that those fleeing persecution would be provided protection. 60 years later however, it has had its share of critiques too. McFayden[i] argues that “...the engagement with the refugee has declined over the years: hostility has replaced hospitality, detention has replaced assistance. The refugee is seen as a burden rather than an individual who is at risk and seeking sanctuary.” Jacqueline Bhabha[ii] (156-157), writing in 2002, argued that “classic” asylum cases were sure to have received assistance under the refugee protection regime, but given that the character of an individual fleeing had changed, it had become difficult for an individual to go through a determination process without being suspected, her bona fides questioned and her application rejected. Thus, a refugee would be better off projecting herself as someone coming from the most oppressive state where barbarism was the rule and civility non-existent. In Bhabha's words “...the more oppressive the home state the greater the chances of gaining asylum in the host state.”[iii] We now see that Assange and Snowden seem to question the concept of “fear of persecution” under international refugee law in yet another changing political and economic fabric. Are these individuals refugees whose rights are protected under the 1951 Convention or criminals who are running away from the law? Each has its share of fierce critics and supporters.


Has the 1951 Convention reached a state of crisis? Can it be considered a document that has for long allowed primitive notions of asylum and refuge to be articulated and by doing so, failed to factor in contemporary concerns where it is impossible to paint a black and white picture of who is worthy of asylum and who is not? Have we not witnessed war, violence and persecution over the last 50 years that calls into question the relevance of the wisdom that resulted in the adoption of the 1951 Convention? The need for Southern countries, especially those in South Asia, to develop a refugee protection regime, over and above a human rights protection system, should ideally be premised on countering these ‘primitiveconstructions by the Northern countries that can extend asylum only whenbarbaritymarks the state in the asylum seekers country of origin. The module will draw out distinctions between the categories of refugee, internally displaced persons, and stateless people in the light of the contested debates around persecution, well-founded fear and asylum adjudication systems. In doing so, it shall also consider whether clear distinctions are infact possible and if yes, the limits of their utility.


The eviction of indigenous people from their land is a recurrent theme in South Asia. Be it Ranigaon, Golai, Motakeda, Somthana, Ahmedabad, Bandarban, or Trincomalee, thousands of families are being evicted from their homes either in the name of conflict or in the name of modernization. The last two decades have witnessed an enormous increase in the number of internally displaced people in South Asia. Since the early 1990s the need for a separate legal mechanism for IDPs in South Asia has increasingly been felt. Only recently has the international community developed such a mechanism: the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. This has given us a framework within which rehabilitation and care of internally displaced people in South Asia can be organised. This module discusses in detail the ways in which the South Asian nation states has addressed the issue of internally displaced persons, the policies regarding the rehabilitation and care of these groups within South Asia.


This module will also examine the various aspects and intricacies enmeshed with the issue of statelessness in general and the way it thwarts South Asia. Statelessness refers to the condition or quality of being, in some way, without a state. In fact it means someone without a nationality, or at least without the protection that nationality should offer. Nationality is the legal bond between a state and an individual. It is a bond of membership that is acquired or lost according to rules set by the state. Within the realm of public international law, rules have evolved in response to the problem of statelessness.


Against the backdrop of the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness this module intends to analyse the dynamics of this problem in South Asia.


[i]Gillian McFayden, The Contemporary Refugee: Persecution, Semantics and Universality, eSharp, Special Issue: The 1951 Convention  - 60 Years On (2012), pp.9-35 at pp.9-10.  (Last accessed 6 September 2013).

[ii] Jacqueline Bhabha, Internationalist Gatekeepers?: The Tension Between Asylum Advocacy and Human Rights, Harvard Human Rights Journal, Volume 15, Spring 2002, pp.156-181 at p.156-157

[iii] Ibid. p.163.


Suggested Readings


A note of introduction:

This list of suggested readings are intended to serve two purposes. One is to introduce some of the older but essential literature that adds to our understanding of the forced migration studies. In List One, you will find some of the more recent references which indicate a few of the many strands of thought specific to South Asia as well as developments taking place now, in the areas of forced migration. List Two contains the older texts and only a very few of these have been suggested here. Some of these were given as suggested readings for the previous Winter Course and there is good reason, to my mind, why this should continue to be read by others similarly interested. The long essay by Edward Everett Hale is particularly interesting and relevant in the Snowdenian era. List Three has tried to suggest some of the research with specific reference to the research areas that have been chosen by participants in 2013. Some, as you will notice, are extremely general, for instance in case of Sri Lanka but they nonetheless offer a good frame with which to analyse the developments and displacement crisis occuring there. Some others are also slightly older, but this in itself may provide insights into the developments or the lack of it in certain jurisdictions.

List One

1. James C. Hathaway, Anthony M. North, And Jason M. Pobjoy, Supervising the Refugee Convention: Introduction, Public Law And Legal Theory Research Paper Series, Paper No. 350, September 2013, available at

2. Need for Fresh Look at 1951 Convention and Relevance of Post Colonial Experiences by K.M.Parivelan

3. Need for Fresh Look at 1951 Convention and Relevance of Post Colonial Experiences by Patrick Hoenig

4. Lenore Taylor, Gillard for a regional solution to asylum, The Hindu, 21 June 2013,

5. Barbora S, Thieme S, Siegmann KA, Menon V, Gurung G. 2008. Migration matters in South Asia: Commonalities and critiques. Economic and Political Weekly 43(24): 57-65.

List Two

1. James Hathaway, The development of the Refugee Definition in International Law, in The Law of Refugee Status, Toronto: Butterworths, 1991, pp.1-27.

2. Malkki, Liisa H. 1995. "Refugees and Exile: From 'Refugee Studies' to the National Order of Things." Annual Review of Anthropology 24 (1):495-523.

3. Visweswaran, Kamala. 2004.Gendered States: Rethinking Culture as a Site of South Asian Human Rights Work, Human Rights Quarterly - Volume 26, Number 2.

4. Jacqueline Bhabha, Internationalist Gatekeepers?: The Tension Between Asylum Advocacy and Human Rights, Harvard Human Rights Journal, Volume 15, Spring 2002.

5. Chimni, B.S. (1999) ' From resettlement to involuntary repatriation': towards a critical history of durable solutions to refugee problems.' New Issues in Refugee Research, No. 2, UNHCR.

6. The Man Without a Country: The classic story of a man who learns to love his country only in exile, Edward Everett Hale, Nov 8 2011, The Atlantic. (First published in December 1863 in The Atlantic)

7. Giorgio Agamben, We Refugees, Symposium, 49:2 (1995: Summer) p.114.

8. Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, The Refugee in International Law, Third Edition, Oxford University Press, 2007

List Three

Bhutan refugees in Nepal

1. Ahura Bhutan (1994) 'Bhutanese refugees': victims of arbitrary deprivation of right to nationality and political repression. A report'.

2. Grenier, M. (1999) 'Nowhere to turn': Bhutanese refugees in Nepal', British Refugee Council.

3.  A site exclusively focusing on Bhutanese refugees -

Afghanistaninternal displacement and refugee flows

1. Schmeidl, S. (2009) 'Repatriation to Afghanistan': Durable Solution or Responsibility Shifting?' Forced Migration Review, No. 33.

2. Turton, D. and Marsden, P. (2002) 'Taking Refugees for a Ride?' The Politics of Refugee Return to Afghanistan', Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU).

3. Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (GOP) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on the Registration of Afghan Citizens Living in Pakistan,

4. Joint Programme between the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and UNHCR for voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees and displaced persons,

Nepalinternal displacement

1. Voiceless Citizens: A case study of Internally Displaced Persons in Nepal by Som Prasad Niroula, Refugee Watch, 32, December 2008.

2. (Updated?) National Policies on Internally Displaced Persons, 2063 (2007) available at$file/IDP+Policy.pdf

3.   Bhattarai-Ghimire A, Upreti BR. 2008. Conflict Induced Displacement: An Emerging Phenomenon of Internal Migration in Nepal. In: Pyakuryal KN, Upreti BR, Sharma SR, editors. Nepal: Transition to Transformation. Kathmandu: HNRSC, NCCR North-South, pp. 101-139.

4.   Deep Ranjini Rai, A pilot survey of internally displaced persons in Kathmandu and Biratnagar, South Asia Forum for Human Rights, 2005.

Sri Lankawar and recent developments

1. Report of the Commission of Enquiry on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation, November 2011, Goverment of Sri Lanka. Available at

2. Kusal Perera, Will Sri Lanka now get on with the job? Kafila, March 2012,

3. State Facilitated Colonization of Northern Sri Lanka2013


Case laws

1.  Namgyal Dolkar vs. Govt. of India, WP (C) 12179/2009, Delhi High Court

2.  NHRC vs. Sate of Arunachal Pradesh, 1996 SCC (1) 741, Supreme Court of India

3.  Sate of Arunachal Pradesh vs. Khudiram Chakma, 1994 SCC (1) 615, Supreme Court of India State v Chandra Kumar and others, judgment dated 20 September 2011, Metropolitan Magistrate, Dwarka Courts, Delhi.






Module D

Research Methodology in Forced Migration Studies

(Concept Note, and Suggested Readings)


Concept Note


In the social sciences methodology is almost taken to be a discipline, bordering on philosophy, whose function is to recommend and examine the methods, which should be used to produce valid knowledge. Methodology lays down procedures to be used in generation of valid knowledge and these procedures are justified or criticized by means of philosophical arguments. It is clear that methodology’s claim to prescribe correct procedures to social sciences presupposes a form of knowledge that is thought to be provided by philosophy. In this sense, methodology presupposes a particular kind of relationship between philosophy and the social sciences where judgment and validation of the claim to knowledge is possible. Different philosophies may conceive of that relationship in different terms and, to that extent, each discourse describes a different ‘regime of truth’; that is, the operation of criteria, norms and procedures for identifying or arguing about ‘true’ propositions in any given case.


Methodologies have hitherto been methodologies of truth either serving as a means of verifying our conjectures with truth claims or by producing it. The voluminous work of Walter Fernandes and his associates may serve as a case in point. They seek to subject all ‘official truths’ about forced migration – particularly the one induced by the commissioning of development projects - into scrutiny and verification. A new and unknown truth with much larger incidence and hugely disastrous consequences is discovered through the processes of scrutiny and verification. While the ‘Truth’ is assumed to be one with capital ‘T’ and researchers would do well to discover it as per the framework, a new awareness has developed and truth is now seen to have been produced at different sites. In other words, there is no single truth; instead there is a plurality of them and there is no way we can privilege one over another. A series of Partition Studies brought out by ‘Kali For Women’ particularly since the 1990s and other feminist publishing houses seek to retrieve truth from the hitherto silenced voices. But both these methodologies presuppose the ‘presence’ of the migrant - a presence that either establishes itself through a truth methodology or gives unto itself a metaphysic. While the former is geared to the understanding of the possibilities of knowledge, the latter flags its limits. Conventional methodologies of truth hardly help us understand the displaced who being displaced find it impossible to register her ‘presence’ and whose is always marked by the ‘presence of absence’ or ‘absence of presence’. Critical forced migration studies (CFMS) makes it imperative to move beyond these methodologies of truth. It calls for not just a shift in our methodology, but a shift in our understanding of methodology. 


The new understanding of methodology calls for a certain reorientation of such concepts as space, state and sovereignty. At a time when large masses of population move and there are mixed and massive flows of population without any home to return, the earth ‘deterritorializes’ itself in a way that provides the migrants with a space. The state is unhinged from the sedentary metaphysic positing it with a centre – an apparatus of capture spreading out towards the border and finally sets up the borders. Forced migration in today’s world implies movement without possession of territory. Sovereign Power is least comfortable with this type of power that escapes it and keeps itself perpetually fluid.


At a more functional level, methodology is a set of practices. This term may be used to refer to practices which are widely used across an industry or a discipline, the techniques used in a particular research study, or the techniques used to accomplish a particular project. People may also use the term ‘methodology’ to refer to the study of such methods, rather than the methods themselves. In terms of research on migration, the orthodox school focuses on differentials in wages and employment conditions between countries and on migration costs; it generally conceives of movement as an individual decision for income maximization. The ‘new economics of migration,’ in contrast, considers conditions in a variety of markets, not just labour markets. It views migration as a household decision taken to minimize risks to family income or to overcome capital constraints on family production activities. Dual labour market theory and world systems theory generally ignore such micro-level decision processes, focusing instead on forces operating at much higher levels of aggregation. The former links immigration to the structural requirements of modern industrial economies, while the latter sees immigration as a natural consequence of economic globalization and market penetration across national boundary. The growing concern about forced migration within the genre of migration studies disturbs all these orthodox theoretical models.


‘Forced migration’ as a problematic demands a critical epistemology. It believes in value-determined nature of inquiry, unlike positivism and post-positivism which are interested in verification and explanation. Further, it wants inquiry to critique with an intention to transform social, political, economic, and ethnic and gender structures, which constrain and exploit woman and man. The inquirer becomes an instigator, a ‘transformative intellectual’ confronting ignorance and misconceptions. The basic assumptions central to this critique can be briefly stated as: (i) commonsense knowledge of social structures, including individual bias, cannot be discounted in favour of the misplaced hope of achieving an objective knowledge; (ii) Statistical logic and experimental methods are not always appropriate for the study of this inter-subjective world and it might require newer models such as analysis through oral narratives; (iii) In an inter-subjective world, policy interventions based on a stimulus-response model of change can neither be analytically nor politically acceptable. Also, in these situations quantitative method and qualitative method a la positivism are ruefully ineffective. By contrast, new understanding of methodology involves use and collection of a variety of empirical material— case studies, personal experience narratives, introspective accounts, life stories, interviews, and observational, historical, interactional and visual texts — that describes routine and problematic moments and the life she lives against the impossible odds with resilience preventing her extinction. A researcher thus becomes committed to the displaced as subject – not a victim – a special subject who has the resilience to withstand and survive. This type of critical methodology that is embedded on an ethic of resilience is suitable for migration studies.

Along with all these, this module will also help to understand how feminist methodology can influence research on forced migration. By adding women as a separate category, the scholars have begun to recover and re-appropriate women’s work. However, the question may arise: Is it the best way to eliminate sexism and andro-centrism? Should we study women as victims of male dominance? These are few questions, besides the fundamental methodological issues, that this module intends to raise while dealing with research methodology in forced migration studies. This module will also discuss CRG’s own work on mapping IDP voices in South Asia.


Suggested Readings


1. Crepeau, Francois (2010): ‘Dealing with Migration: A Test for Democracies’ in Refugee Watch: A South Asian Journal on Forced Migration, 35, June.

2. Das, Samir Kumar (2008): ‘Democracy Beyond Frontiers: Indian Democracy in the Age of Globalization’ in Bhupinder Brar, Ashutosh Kumar & Ronki Ram (eds.), Globalization and the Politics of Identity. New Delhi: Pearson Longman.

3. Foucault, Michel (1977): ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy, History’ in Michel Foucault, Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews, ed. & trans. with an introduction by Donald Bouchard. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

4. Gould, Carol C. (1996): Globalizing Democracy and Human Rights. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

5. Said, Edward (1973): Beginnings: Intention and Method. New York: Columbia University Press.

6. Samaddar, Ranabir (1999): The Marginal Nation: Transborder Migration From Bangladesh to West Bengal. New Delhi: Sage.

7. Weber, Max (1949): ‘“Objectivity” in Social Science and Social Policy’ in Max Weber, The Methodology of Social Science, trans. and ed. by Edward A Shils, Henry A. Finch. Glencoe: The Free Press.





Module E

Climate Change, Environmental Degradation, Resource Politics, and Migration

(Concept Note, and Suggested Readings)


Concept Note


Each year, millions of people are forcibly displaced by environmental crises, climate change, conflicts and resource crunch. These are some of the pertinent concerns of contemporary development discourse. Although internally displaced persons are often defined as those uprooted by conflict, human-rights violations and natural or human-made disasters, they also include those displaced by development projects. While victims of natural disaster and those displaced by conflict dominantly constitute the focus of sympathetic action and international aid, the same cannot be said for victims of development-induced displacement, although the consequences development may be equally dire.


                Forced migration due to resource crisis caused by climate change and environmental degradation is a serious impediment to attaining the normative goal of equity, participation and development. In this module it is particularly intended to examine to what extent the issues of environmental challenges and resource crisis and the resultant displacement are impairing social equality, on the one hand, and to what extent existing social inequality, particularly in the relationship between developed and developing countries, is causing the problems of resource crisis and displacement, on the other. The basic objective of this module is to contemplate the impacts of environmental challenges, resource crisis, climate change and subsequent displacement on the development of society within the following suggested framework: (a) Resource conflict and internal displacement: experiences of indigenous population and groups in India (Review of resettlement policies in South Asia); (b) Disaster-induced displacement - experiences and policies; and (c) The mixed nature of climate induced displacement.


               It is already accepted that one of the major sources of climate change, environmental degradation, and subsequent resource crisis is our present mode of production and consumption. Climate change and resultant resource crisis as direct cause of forced migration is an issue on which there are different views. On the one hand, there is a view that argues that climate change and environmental degradation are increasingly becoming a significant cause of forced migration, and therefore, one should give proper attention to the environmental factors of forced migration by officially recognising these migrated peoples as environmental refugees. On the other hand, there is a view that argues that while environmental degradation and climate change do play a part in forced migration, they are at the same time closely linked to a range of other political and economic factors. Therefore, focusing on the environmental factors in isolation from political and economic factors cannot help to adequately understand the issue of forced migration. On the contrary, identifying these people as merely environmental refugee might divert attention from the complex nature of the relationship between climate change, resource crisis and displacement of the population.


               There is no doubt that there is an urgent need to protect and help the people who are forced to migrate due to climate change and environmental degradation. For this purpose one may, however need a comprehensive and multi-dimensional approach.


               Climate change will inflict damage on every continent, but it will hit the world's poor disproportionately hard. Whatever hard-fought human development gains have been made may be impeded or reversed by climate change as new threats emerge to water and food security, agricultural production and access, and nutrition and public health.


               Effective climate solutions must empower global development by improving livelihoods, health, and economic prospects, while poverty alleviation itself must become a central strategy for both mitigating emissions and reducing global vulnerability to adverse climate impacts.


            Global warming and climate change are inter related issues. The anthropogenic input mainly through fossil fuel use, deforestation and industrial revolution, which releases about six billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, has resulted in warming up of earth and has become one of the greatest threats facing the planet. Global surface temperature over the 100 years ending in 2005, has increased by about 0.74 ± 0.18 °C. The atmospheric CO2 concentrations has increased from the pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million to 379 parts per million in 2005. [i]


            Global warming has effected a change in quantum and patterns of precipitation. The changes in temperature and precipitation patterns increased the frequency, duration and intensity of extreme weather events like floods, droughts, heat waves and cyclones. Other effects of global warming include higher or lower agricultural yields, further glacial retreat, reduced summer stream flows, species extinctions and disease outbreaks. Deforestation also affects regional carbon reuptake, which can result in increased concentrations of CO2, the dominant greenhouse gas. Land-clearing methods such as slash and burn compound these effects by burning bio matter, which directly releases greenhouse gases and particulate matter into the air.


            The oceans play a vital role in the earth’s life support system through regulating climate and global biogeochemical cycles through their capacity to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). But, the additional input has resulted in the reduction of ocean pH, which will have a subsequent effect on the carbonate chemistry through the reduction of the carbonate ions, aragonite and calcite, used by many marine organisms to build their external skeletons and shells. Ocean acidification has already increased ocean acidity by 30 % and could increase by 150 % by 2100. The increase in global temperatures are causing a broad range of changes like sea level rise due to thermal expansion of the ocean and melting of land ice, leading to inundation of coastal areas and displacement of substantial human populace.CO2 (Carbon dioxide) emissions belong to the most important causes of global warming. So, intervention is very much essential with the participation of people so as to mitigate the effect of the global warming. Awareness is very much lacking on among the public on the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, to follow energy saving methods etc.

            According to IPCC, “Noting with concern that the emerging evidence indicates that continued growth in atmospheric concentrations of “greenhouse” gases could produce global warming with an eventual rise in sea levels, the effects of which could be disastrous for mankind if timely steps are not taken at all levels”. Neglect in protecting our heritage of natural resources could prove extremely harmful for the human race and for all species that share common space on planet earth. Indeed, there are many lessons in human history which provide adequate warning about the chaos and destruction that could take place if we remain guilty of myopic indifference to the progressive erosion and decline of nature’s resources[ii].


            Disaster is defined as ‘the impact of an event or phenomenon which is caused by nature or human induced, which result in number of deaths and destruction of property where by affecting normalcy of life, causing damage to society, economy and environment, which by and large is beyond the coping mechanism of the community or society concerned’[iii]. Well in the recent years there has been series of disasters globally. The problems that are often encountered by persons affected by the consequences of natural disasters include: unequal access to assistance; discrimination in aid provision; enforced relocation; sexual and gender-based violence; loss of documentation; recruitment of children into fighting forces; unsafe or involuntary return or resettlement; and issues of property restitution. The affected populations are most often forced to leave their homes or places of residence because of the destruction of houses and shelter by volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, floods, drought, landslides, earthquakes and tornados. Thus, a high number of persons also become internally displaced as a result of such disasters or the fear of future damages.[iv]


            Notably in India the Orissa Super Cyclone in 1999, Gujarat (Bhuj) earthquake in 2001, Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004, etc., has brought in shift in government policies. Based on the experiences gathered on the impact of disasters, now Government of India has evolved holistic and integrated approach to disaster management.  There are some positive developments in national level in the disaster management context such as the introduction of Disaster Management Act of 2005, and other institutional structures such as National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) up to Panchayat Raj level in its formation. The National Policy framework has been prepared after due deliberations and keeping in view the National Vision ‘to build a safe and disaster-resilient India by developing a holistic, proactive, multi-disaster and technology-driven strategy for disaster management. This will be achieved through a culture of prevention, mitigation and preparedness to generate a prompt and efficient response at the time of disasters. The entire process will centre-stage the community and will be provided momentum and sustenance through the collective efforts of all government agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations. This Policy framework is also in conformity with the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the Rio Declaration, the Millennium Development Goals and the Hyogo Framework 2005-2015. NDMA’s Objectives, Guidelines and Policy formulations have evolved to include efficient response and relief with proper preparedness and mitigation with caring and humane approach towards the vulnerable sections of the society. In India when the institutional mechanism is geared up at national level, many provincial States are yet to gear up with disaster management structures. It is yet to be seen whether the paradigm shift from reactive responses to proactive preparedness and mitigation is going to be a reality. There is long way to go. Particularly there is need to strengthen the community resilience through community based disaster management.


            Now linking climate change adaptation with disaster risk reduction is another major challenge because it needs fundamental change in government’s approach which has been using the prism of development from GDP alone. It needs to make community participatory and local specific approaches to succeed in tackling the issues of climate change, environment degradation, disaster and displacements.


            There are several inter related issues like coastal zone management, special economic zones formation, rehabilitation policy, etc. which affect weak and marginalised sections. It is important to see the inter relationship between resource politics, environmental degradation, global warming, climate change, and natural disasters.  Now we need to see the link between Disaster Risk reduction (DRR) and Climate Change adaptation (CCA). So disasters, environment degradation, climate change et al cause displacement to a large extent.


[i] Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change Report (IPCC), 2007.

[ii] Pachauri, R K, Nobel Prize acceptance Speech, oslo, 10 December 2007

[iii] According to the India’s National Disaster Management Act of 2005

[iv]  Walter Kälin/Claudine Haenni, Disaster risk mitigation – why human rights matter, in: Forced Migration Review, Issue 31, October 2008, pp. 38-39



Suggested Readings


1. Ranabir Samaddar, “Agrarian Impasse and the Making of an Immigrant Niche” in The Marginal Nation: Transborder Migration from Bangladesh to West Bengal, Sage Publications, New Delhi, 1999.

2.   Paula Banerjee, Samir Kumar Das, Eds. Internal Displacement in South Asia: The Relevance of the UN's Guiding Principles.

3.   K.Samal, Environment, Displacement and Resettlement

4.   Lael Brainard, Abigail Jones and Nigel Purvis, eds., Climate Change and Global Poverty A Billion Lives in the Balance? In Global Poverty, Climate Change, Development, Developing Countries, Foreign Aid, Brookings Institution Press, 2009.

5.   “Uprooted Twice: Refugees from the Chittagong Hill Tracts”, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, in Ranabir Samaddar (ed.), Refugee and The State, Sage: New Delhi, 2003.

6.   “Pakistan : Development and Disaster”, Atta ur Rehman Sheikh, in Paula Banerjee, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury and Samir Das (ed.), Internal Displacement in South Asia, Sage : New Delhi, 2004.

7.   “Bangladesh : Displaced and Dispossessed”, Meghna Guhathakurta and Suraiya Begum, Paula Banerjee, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury and Samir Das (ed.), Internal Displacement in South Asia, Sage : New Delhi, 2004.

8.   Report of Workshop on Engendering Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policies and Programmes in India, Mohammed Asif, Lyla Mehta and Harsh Mander, November 2002.

9.   Summary of Working Group I Contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report Climate Change 2013, 27 September 2013

10. IPCC, 2012, Summary for Policy Makers, Managing the Risk of Extreme Events and disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation.

11.  Ministry of Home Affairs, 2011, Disaster Management in India.

12.  K.M. Parivelan, Community Based Disaster Management Approaches, TNTRC, 2008


Web-based References


A. Selected Articles from REFUGEE WATCH, a South Asian journal Published by CRG


1.  “Development Induced Displacement in Pakistan” / Atta ur Rehman Sheikh, in Refugee Watch, No. 15, 2001.

2.   “Tsunami: Gendered Nature of the Problem and Responses Gender, Media and the Tsunami”, Ammu Joseph, Refugee Watch, 24.25.26. 2005.

3.  “The Tsunami Situation in Tamilnadu”, Bimla Chandrasekar, Refugee Watch, 24.25.26. 2005.

4.  “The Tsunami and the UN Role in India”, K. M. Parivelan, Refugee Watch, 24.25.26. 2005.

5.  “Scrutinizing the Land Resettlement Scheme in Bhutan”, Jagat Acharya, Refugee Watch, No. 9, March 2000.

6.  “The Proposal of Strengthening Embankment in Sundarban: Myth and Reality” - Discussion Paper I, Refugee Watch 35, 2010.

7.  “A Billion Indians in a Changing Climate by”, Alina Pathan, ,Refugee Watch 34, 2009.

8.  Arun G. Mukhopadhyay, “Critical Climatic, Migration and Biopolitics: The Mexico-US Border and Beyond”, Refugee Watch 33, 2009.

9.  “Making Sense of Climate Change, Natural Disasters, and Displacement: A Work in Progress”, Elizabeth Ferris, Refugee Watch 30, 2008.


To Acess and Download the above Articles Please Visit our Website



B. Selected References from Policies and Practices (CRG publications)


1. Amitesh Mukhopadhyay, Cyclone Aila and the Sundarbans : An Enquiry into the Disaster, Policies of Aid and Relief , Policies and Practices 26,

2. Sutirtha Bedajna, “Between Ecology and Economy :  Environmental Governance in India”, Policies and practices 37, 2010.

3. Nirmal Kumar Mahato, “Environment and Migration, Purulia, West  Bengal”, Policies and Practices 30, 2010.

4. Nirekha De Silva, “Protecting the Rights of the Tsunami Victims: The Sri Lanka  Experience”, Policies and Practices 28, 2010.


To Acess and Download the above Articles Please Visit our Website


C.  Selected Reference from the Distinguised Lecture series published by CRG


1.  Walter kaelin, “Climate Change Induced Displacement: A Challenge for International Law”, Distinguised Lecture series, CRG, 2011.






Module F

Humanitarian Disasters, Human Rights Violations, and Social Media Journalism

(Concept Note, and Suggested Readings)


Concept Note


From the Tahrir Square in Cairo to the Shahbag Square in Dhaka, the world, in recent times, has seen an explosion of digital culture in the organization of protests as well as in the dissemination of news. Citizen journalism has asserted itself in the social media space globally, even as the traditional media has been slow to wake up to the phenomenon. Now, gradually comprehending its social and political traction, the powers that be — the political and government establishments — too, are trying to join the social media bandwagon. At least one major media group has rededicated its prestigious “excellence in journalism” awards to social media this year. The CRG has decided to take advantage of this historic conjunction to debate and discuss the issue in a workshop/ media research lab format. The questions that face the workshop are critically important and not easy to resolve:

·          How empowering, after all, is social media?

·          Has it indeed democratized news?

·          If yes, in what modes and forms has this democratization been attained?

·          What is the fine line that distinguishes defamation/slander from the freedom of expression — a critically important concern for all democratic societies?

·          Also, the ideological underpinning of social-media participation is not an exercise in unadulterated progressive activism. A critical understanding of this participation is required as much as a considered revaluation of the phrase “social media” itself is necessary.


The CRG will attempt to engage with these questions through the optic of humanitarian disasters and human rights violations and the need to protect the victims of these disasters and violations. The workshop will endeavour to sensitize social media activists to issues of rights and protection resulting from forced migration, and, in the process of the programme, establish connect between mainstream journalists working on forced migration issues and social media activists. The participation of social media activists will be the main source of information. The various ways in which social media has been active will be documented and thus made visible. This is because even our fragmentary knowledge tells us of the important ways in which social media has been active, for instance, in the Northeast of India in humanitarian crises like the Brahmaputra floods and human-rights violations One of the important sources of information will be the way incidents like the hunger-strike by Iron Sharmila in Manipur, or protests in Shahbag Square in Dhaka, or civil rights campaign in West Bengal based on the portal called “Sanhati” (there are other instances) have enthused decentralised news-making, gathering, reporting, circulating, analysing, and finally becoming factors in popular mobilisation in defence of the victims of human-rights violations or humanitarian crises like the Aila Cyclone, the Tsunami in Tamil Nadu and the Andamans.


Presently, there is hardly any interface of mainstream journalists, on the one hand, and social media activists and independent citizen journalists, on the other. At best what we get in mainstream media is mostly news of what celebrities (ministers, sportspersons, actors and actresses, etc.) have posted on Facebook or Twitter. In the mainstream media, there are again hardly instances of developing stories with inputs from bloggers, net-users, freelance photographers, and other citizen-journalists. These only feature, if they do at all, as “social reactions and responses”. Though CRG has in the past taken up programmes on the right to communication, it had not explored adequately the relation between communication and information in the field of forced migration. Other institutions working in this area have likewise not done enough. Even media training centres have not done enough on social media and its impact on ways of communicating as well as information gathering and distributing. As a result, the divide between mainstream journalists and citizen journalists remains marked.


Through the media workshop, with the digital revolution as its core concern, a practical training schedule, assignments, case studies (global as well national), and a relevant field visit, the possibilities and the potentialities of social media activism would be made visible. Likewise case studies of online media sites (such as BBC or Tehelka) utilising social media reportages and material archived in social media sites (such as Kafila, IHRO, Internal Displacement Monitoring Alert, and various Listservs dedicated to issues of displacement) will become sources of information. This would also tell us how the online archives of media sites are used not only by professional researchers but by scores of social media activities (as in online resource directories on Partition, Tsunami, Forced Migration Review, Refugee Resource Network, etc.) in their work of communication and opinion exchanges.


            The workshop, as has been said in so many words, will be in the form of a media research lab insofar as the focus will be on interdisciplinary engagement with new media, digital culture and technology on issues of human rights violations and humanitarian disasters. The workshop will run parallel to the Eleventh Orientation Course on Forced Migration Studies to be held in Kolkata, India (8-14 December 2013).