Photo credit: Anna Dubuis / DFID
Central Africa has witnessed prolonged and repetitive forms of displacement. In 2015, the UNHCR described forced displacement figures related to this region as ‘immense’. To date, international organisations have prioritised ‘going home’ as the most durable solution to this crisis. Processes of ‘return and reintegration’ represent a huge practical and policy challenge for world governments and are therefore a critical international policy issue. The Politics of Return research project, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council, aims to study precisely these dynamics in the central and eastern African countries of Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and South Sudan through an inter-disciplinary, multi-sited ethnography of ‘return’.
By analysing how refugees, internally-displaced persons and former combatants negotiate and experience ‘return’, we aim to fill a large gap in current knowledge on the ‘lifecycle’ of conflicts in some of the world’s most difficult places. Drawing on anthropology, comic journalism, history, heritage studies and political science, we will focus on the everyday experiences of those attempting to build or re-build communities in central Africa, contributing to a better understanding of how conflict-affected societies constitute or re-constitute themselves.