Economic researcher explores conceptual, practical issues in forced migration research

Birzeit University’s Ibrahim Abu Lughod Institute of International Studies organized an online lecture on forced migration and Syrian refugees featuring Rabie Nasr, an economic researcher at the Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR), on September 26, 2020.

The lecture targeted master’s students enrolled in the course “Introduction to Asylum and International Migration Studies.”

Nasr started his presentation by introducing a conceptual framework on refugees and displaced Syrians, discussing the Syrian conflict, its causes, and its political, economic and social contexts. He then built his argumentation on three key levels: methodology, practice and policy.

On the methodological level, Nasr pointed out that conducting research in an environment of conflict poses numerous challenges. Researchers must overcome fear, meet the conditions and follow the policies of external funders, and tackle the dominance of the western notions and thought regarding research as well as the marginalization of refugees. Nasr also stressed that it is crucial to avoid passing on false or biased information by assembling a strong research team, distributing tasks among the team members, and diversifying the groups that are researched.

On the practical level, Nasr reviewed the studies conducted by SCPR on Syria that include quantitative, qualitative, academic and policy research. Relying on the collected data and the results they obtained, he tracked the Syrian refugees in Syria and the diaspora, including Lebanon, and presented demographic data and statistics in addition to examples that show how diaspora communities face violations of their right to live and be safe.

Nasr then focused on the need to define suitable policies that reframe the issue of refugees beyond the idea that they are a security problem, considering them active community members. He highlighted the contexts of financing refugees with developmental goals in mind.

The session ended with a discussion and questions from the audience, including the master’s students enrolled in the “Introduction to Asylum and International Migration Studies” course.

The lecture is part of an ongoing research project organized by KnowWAr and funded by the Austrian Development Agency. For more information, please visit