In the Southern Caucasus and the Black Sea Region
Edited By Ghia Nodia and Christoph H. Stefes
Crossing the Border – An Intergenerational Study of Belonging and Temporary Return among IDPs from Abkhazia
ABSTRACT: More than 250 000 people are displaced within the borders of Georgia today. The majority of the displaced fled the armed ethnic conflicts in Abkhazia in the 1990s. The administrative boundary line between Georgia and Abkhazia has, in effect, turned into a de facto state border but Georgians displaced from Abkhazia have continued to cross the boundary to enter Abkhazia for longer or shorter durations. This study addresses the motives for crossing the boundary and its significance for how people understand their belonging.
KEYWORDS: Georgia, Abkhazia, internal displacement, border, belonging, home
Worldwide, civil wars and ethnic conflicts have increased since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and have consequently caused rising numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) (Cohen and Deng,1998; Castells, 2003; IDMC, 2011; UNHCR 2011). Migration researchers since at least the late 1990s have emphasized that many of today’s economic migrants are included in cross-border networks by maintaining extensive and regular contact across national borders but the transnational networks of forcibly displaced people have rarely been taken into account, and when their transnational relationships have been addressed, they are usually reduced to political activities (Glick Schiller, 1997; Portes, 1999; Al-Ali et al., 2001; Collier, 2005; Glick Schiller et al., 1995; Koser, 2007). Irrespective of the means of communication – Internet, telephone calls, letters, or physical movements – transnationalism can be interpreted as an expression of belonging both to the country of origin and the country of residence (Madsen and Van Naerssen,...
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