Cyclical, Temporary, No Return. Multiple Navigational Strategies of Displaced Persons from Myanmar

  • Alexander Horstmann (Author)
  • Markus Rudolf (Author)
  • Clara Schmitz-Pranghe (Author)


Displaced persons in and from Myanmar employ a wide array of coping and navigational strategies to secure their livelihoods and to find physical protection. Placing these in the context of the security situation in Myanmar, the paper demonstrates that organised violence and related concerns for safety are not only the main cause of displacement, but constitute an important factor that continuously shapes livelihood options and strategies for those who find themselves in cycles of protracted violence and displacement. The array of strategies is situated between or beyond the classic paradigms promoted by international refugee organisations: return, local integration and resettlement. Beyond aid and non-aid related strategies, we observed such vital coping mechanisms as cyclical return movements, the establishment of transnational networks and webs, and the development of self-established infrastructure. Return and local integration are two options in a continuum of strategies comprising cyclical and temporary return processes, transnational networks and patterns of de facto local integration. The cases presented show that refugees weigh the risks of return in relation to their current situation. Decisive factors include security, access to legal documents, public services and infrastructure. Our research showed that any dichotomy that contrasts non-refugees as masters of their own fate as opposed to displaced persons as victims without agency is obsolete. The coping patterns of displaced persons are highly flexible and adaptive.


Myanmar, displacement, coping strategies, cyclical return, transnational networks