Voices of Asylum - Exploring the Narratives of Refugees as Agents of Development

Amanda Thorhauge Blaabjerg & Sabina Thulin

Studenteropgave: Speciale


This thesis explores the relationship between first hand experiences of being labelled ‘refugee’ and the broader tendencies of framing refugees as a problem for development. We argue that the construction of a certain ‘kind of refugee’ has implications not only for the people behind the label, but also how hosting societies perceive refugees as an unwelcome burden. The theoretical framework of this thesis applies concepts of labelling, stigma, and human agency to explore constructions of problems, perceptions, and identity. Guided by reflexive methodology our analysis became a dialogue between theory, the empirical world, and ourselves as researchers, emphasising the diversity of refugee experiences. Firstly, we illustrate how being in the asylum system and being labelled as a refugee has several implications for individual and collective identity, but also how people behind the label are characterised by resilience and resources. This was based on interviews with nine refugees, of which the majority was still in the Danish asylum system upon publication of this work. Secondly, based on current debates and four interviews with representatives from key refugee and development actors in Denmark we discuss central challenges of refugee advocacy and protection. These challenges are linked to the size and complexity of forced migration today, and the tendency to frame refugees as an economic burden and a problem for national security. Finally, highlighting main potentials and challenges in reframing the refugee burden in terms of potentials, resources, and rights, we discuss parallels between developed and developing nations. We argue that there is an urgent need and opportunity to include refugees as agents of development, both in developing and developed nations.

UddannelserInternationale Udviklingsstudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato29 jun. 2015
VejledereEric Komlavi Hahonou & Catharina Juul Kristensen


  • Refugees