Refugee Repatriation and Local Politics in Angola

Migration and return migration are challenging phenomena of creativity and adaptation, both in past and contemporary Africa. They cause changes in local structures and induce frictions, which propel further cycles of adaptation and creativity by locals and migrants.

The project focuses on such changes by analyzing the case of returning Angolan refugees after years or decades in Zambian refugee camps. More specifically, it studies the return of refugees who were engaged, as local leaders, in decision-making processes at local levels prior to their flight from Angola.

The project addresses a twofold question. Firstly, it is asked what kinds of repercussions are invoked by the return of such refugees and their re-immersion into the local arenas which will have changed during their years of absence. What kind of local structure emerges from the interaction between returned local leaders and those who stayed? Secondly, it is asked how local decision-making is influenced by the experiences of the returnees during their time as camp refugees. In particular, the project will examine the influence, if any, of their exposure to the international refugee regime, which propagates “humanitarian” and “democratic” values (often seen as Western values) in the camps. Has this experience shaped the reintegration of local leaders in Angola who have returned after staying in the refugee camps of Zambia?   

Starting date:

01. 04.2011

Research areas:

In the following cities and provinces in 
Angola: Benguela (Benguela)
Huamabo (Huambo)
Kuito (Bié)
Moxico (Cazombo)


See interactive map

Project Phases 

14 August-8 November 2011: First field research was conducted


Previous and upcoming presentations & workshops concerning the project