Nadje Al-ALI, Richard BLACK, Khalid KOSER : Refugees and transnationalism : the experience of Bosnians and Eritreans in Europe.

Journal article by Nadje Al-Ali, Richard Black, Khalid Koser Published in Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Vol. 27, 2001


The study of transnationalism has largely bypassed refugees, or in rare cases has focused specifically on their political activities. Proceeding from recent perspectives in international migration studies which suggest that there may be at best only a blurred conceptual distinction between refugees and other migrants, this article subjects two refugee groups — Eritreans and Bosnians in various European countries — to the type of transnational analysis more commonly found among labour migrants. It extends the focus from political activities to show how refugees can become involved in a range of economic, social and cultural transnational activities. At the same time, the paper identifies a range of obstacles which differentially influence the desire and capacity of the study populations to participate in these activities. On the basis of this empirical evidence, we make the case for a fuller incorporation of refugees in the contemporary study of transnationalism. At a more conceptual level, the paper charts the evolution of transnational characteristics among the study populations. The implication, which extends beyond the refugee context alone, is that transnationalism is not a `state of being’, as is sometimes implied by the existing literature, but rather that transnationalism is a dynamic process.

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