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Published November 30, 2021 | Version 1.0
Working paper Open

Figurations of Displacement in Southern Europe - Empirical findings and reflections on protracted displacement and translocal networks of forced migrants in Greece and Italy

  • 1. FIERI (Forum of International and European Research on Immigration)
  • 2. University of Trieste
  • 3. Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
  • 4. National Technical University of Athens
  • 5. University of Thessaly


This working paper is based on empirical research on the Translocal Figurations of Displacement in Greece and Italy. The authors aim to compare protracted displacement in Greece and Italy, looking at the structural forces shaping it and their interactions with migrants’ mobility and connectivity. This comparison is based on the analysis of the relations between two contextual variables (governance regimes and host population) and three key variables (mobility, connectivity and marginalisation). In this paper, they present findings from three study sites in Greece and four research locations in Italy. Findings show that protracted legal and socio-economic marginalisation is a key feature characterising the lives of displaced people in southern European countries. It confirms the hypothesis that protracted displacement does not end when forced migrants reach Greece or Italy. Restrictive governance regimes at the national and EU level severely limit mobility opportunities within Greece and Italy and across the European Union (EU). To cope with and resist marginalising and immobilising policies, displaced migrants in Italy and Greece put in place several strategies, ranging from adapting to governance regimes and taking the most out of them to resisting them and finding ways to avoid, bypass or overcome such regimes. In this framework, mobility and connectivity emerge as a resource and a trap for displaced migrants in southern Europe. On the one hand, migrants’ strategies of intra-national and intra-EU mobility may help them out of protracted displacement, while on the other, certain types of mobility (hyper-, circular, paradoxical) can entrap, rather than free them. Similarly, local, translocal and transnational networks emerge as a crucial resource for displaced people in Greece and Italy. At the same time, family and co-ethnic networks may also be experienced as disabling, hampering one’s aspirations to get out of protracted displacement. Fieldwork in both countries highlighted common factors shaping the relationships between displaced migrants and host communities. We also observed different facets of intergroup relations, ranging from indifference to friendship. The paper concludes by highlighting similarities and differences on the findings from both countries, based on qualitative and quantitative data.


TRAFIG Working Paper No. 9



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TRAFIG – Transnational Figurations of Displacement: Connectivity and Mobility as Solutions to Protracted Refugee Situations 822453
European Commission