Migration, Forced

Book Chapter

Erdal, Marta Bivand (2020) Migration, Forced, in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography. Amsterdam: Elsevier (105–110).

​​Migration may be described as forced in relation to how it comes about in circumstances of coercion, and necessitates questions about sources of force and scope for choice. Following natural disasters, populations are displaced, in situations where there may be limited room for choice. In contexts of violent conflict, depending on the intensity of the conflict, there is often more scope for choice, where some leave, others stay behind. These examples illustrate the spectrum of possible roles of force and choice in relation to migration decisions, where both mobility and immobility can be partly or entirely voluntary or involuntary. The governance of forced migration varies radically, depending on whether migrants have crossed an international border, and whether they fulfill the criteria set out in the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention. Most forced migration is internal to nation-states and is thus the responsibility of national governments. Geographical approaches to forced migration help unravel the roles of different actors and scales, below, above, and including the nation-state level, over time. Attentiveness to the roles and salience of different actors in relation to international borders, geographic distance, and geopolitical conditions are key dimensions to understanding geographies of forced migration.

Publisher's webpage


Marta Bivand Erdal

Marta Bivand Erdal

Research Director

ISBN: 978-0-08-102296-2