Research Matters

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Tracing Citizenship and Displacement

Preventing statelessness and tackling protracted displacement caused by or leading to statelessness is key to achieving the SDGs, but cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach. Focusing on Myanmar, home to the world’s largest stateless population and over 70 years of civil war, this collaborative research with civil society organizations combines legal, archival, and field-based qualitative methods to trace how statelessness is produced over time and inherited across generations.

Statelessness numbers in Asia are far higher than current figures suggest, as previous population movements and forced migrations do not appear on the radars of international organizations tasked with displacement, statelessness, migration, and refugees. The relationship between postcolonial citizenship and displacement events in the production of intergenerational statelessness is key to understanding contemporary Asia. As Asia is home to the majority of climate-induced displacement, it is likely that displacement events, protracted displacement, refugee flows, and intergenerational statelessness will increase.

Thus far, research findings have been used in policy and advocacy by actors from Myanmar civil society, INGOs, UNOHCHR, UNOPS, the EU, UNHCR, Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG), local media, and Myanmar-focused education programs.

Researcher/institution: Senior lecturer Elizabeth Rhoads, Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University