Articulations and Repercussions of Violence in Refugee Reception and Settlement

This project explores articulations of violence, which continue to affect refugees even after they were granted legal protection.


  • Lead school School of Social Work
  • Institute Institute for Social and Cultural Diversity
  • Strategic thematic field Thematic field "Caring Society"
  • Funding organisation SNSF
  • Duration (planned) 01.05.2023 - 31.07.2024
  • Project management Prof. Dr. Eveline Ammann Dula
  • Head of project Dr. Carolin Fischer


It is widely assumed that violence ends once refugees arrive at their destination and are granted protection. This masks the fact that refugee reception and settlement are not only protective but also marked by experiences of destitution, legal precariousness, dependency, hostility, xenophobia and sometimes overt physical harm. Such experiences can also be framed as violence, which is a multifaceted and established concept in social research. Origins and consequences of such experiences, however, have not yet been examined from perspectives of vio-lence. To start filling this gap, this project aims to explore articulations of violence, which con-tinue to affect refugees even after they were granted protection. Focusing on refugee reception and settlement it investigates how and with what effect different actors perceive and are involved in articulations of violence, including refugees themselves, state authorities and representatives of civic support structures. In particular, the project seeks to uncover how persons who have been granted protection, experience violence and how experiences of violence affect images of the self and aspirations for the future.

Course of action

The project is based on multi-sited ethnographies among refugees in Norway and Switzerland. It involves persons of different national origin who received refugee status, subsidiary protec-tion or a temporary residence permit. Complementary expert interviews, focus groups and document analysis are additional data sources. Norway and Switzerland represent interesting but little explored contexts of refugee reception and settlement. Both countries are known for their wealth and high levels of life satisfaction, which sets them apart from many other Euro-pean countries, besides their non-membership in the EU. However, they are also marked by right wing populism, instances of xenophobia and increasingly restrictive asylum regimes. Systems of refugee incorporation are rooted in different welfare state traditions. These similarities and differences are important features of contexts in which articulations and experiences of violence among settling refugees are embedded. Following people over an extended period of time and to multiple sites of significance to their everyday life yields insights to peoples’ trajectories in countries of settlement. It illuminates how present experiences of physical, structural, epistemic and symbolic violence are related to both the individual past and the current structural context. The project examines how different forms of violence are interlinked and uncovers how refugees exercise agency by acting upon experienced violence.

This project contributes to the following SDGs

  • 10: Reduced inequalities
  • 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions