The Intersections of Syrian Refugees’ Dilemma: Settlement, Onward Movement, and Return

Seminar Series on Forced Migration with Ahmet Içduygu and Ayşe Çağlar
Seminars and Colloquia

The international refugee regime and its national versions increasingly tend to offer a temporary protection mechanism that creates a “limboizing effect” on refugees’ lives. It also appears that these policies use temporariness as a political tool of governance. While these dominant international and national rulings ideally present the three choices of settlement (integration in the first country of asylum), onward movement (resettlement in the third country), and return (repatriation) as durable solutions to the refugee question, none of these choices easily become pertinent in the lives of refugees under their protracted situation and limitations of the international refugee regime. Consequently, refugees face with the challenges of living in an environment of uncertainties that is also labelled with the concept of permanent temporariness. In this presentation, Ahmet Içduygu referred to the concept of permanent temporariness, and answered the question of what is the role of international refugee regime and that of Turkey’s refugee policies towards Syrian refugees in the context of refugees’ aspirations for planning their future. He also questioned the polarized nature of the structure-agency debate, emphasizing the synthesis of these two influences on refugees’ aspirations in the context of settlement, onward movement and return choices.

Ahmet İçduygu is the former Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey. He currently holds a dual appointment as a full professor at Koç, one is in the Department of International Relations and the other is in the Department of Sociology. He is also the Director of the Migration Research Center at Koc (MiReKoc).

IWM Permanent Fellow Ayşe Çağlar moderated the evening.


The Seminar Series on Forced Migration is part of Europe-Asia Research Platform on Forced Migration at the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM) and Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group (CRG); and is hosted at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna.