Situating Migration in Wartime and Post-war Mozambique: A Critique of ‘Forced Migration’ Research

Stephen C. Lubkemann

in Categories and Contexts

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199270576
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191600883 | DOI:

Series: International Studies in Demography

Situating Migration in Wartime and Post-war Mozambique: A Critique of ‘Forced Migration’ Research

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  • History of Economic Thought


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Analyzes the causes, organization, and impact of wartime migration during and since Mozambique's recent civil war (1977–1992), in order to challenge theories that establish categorizations of migration based on the degree of its ‘forcedness’. It demonstrates how predominant demographic theories of forced migration rest on a highly reductionist model of decision‐making that fails adequately to examine actor agency and the social and cultural factors that inform agency in acute crisis contexts. It also challenges theoretical models of so‐called ‘forced migration’ that privilege the analysis of macro‐political factors in explaining the causes and organization of wartime movement. Arguing that displacement must be examined in historical perspective, this study shows how migration had long been a strategy deployed by actors in central Mozambique in a variety of local‐level social struggles over the rights and obligations that defined social relationships. These culturally defined, and ‘micro‐level’ social struggles also shaped wartime migration in ways that ultimately resulted in a highly gendered wartime population distribution. This study focuses, in particular, on how struggles over the gendered configuration of power relations within marriage affected wartime and post‐conflict migration through the development of new forms of ‘transnationalized’ polygyny. Finally, this study proposes steps towards developing alternative theoretical approaches to the study of crisis migration.

Keywords: displacement; forced migration; gender; labour migration; Mozambique; refugees; South Africa; structure/agency; transnationalism

Chapter.  16196 words. 

Subjects: History of Economic Thought

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