From Policy Irrelevance to a Return to Relevance: Active Strategies in Forced Migration Research

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This article traces a key logical framework in migration research: policy relevance. While many scholars and practitioners call for a closer relationship between research objectives and policy relevance; others have argued otherwise. Research which privileges the worldviews of forced migrants; rather than those of policymakers and practitioners; holds promise for moving beyond strict policy-laden and often legal categories; thereby creating new knowledge and priorities for policy itself. In this article; we unpack the denouement of this argument; that is; what has transpired in Forced Migration Studies since. Policy irrelevant research seeks to challenge taken-for-granted knowledge; and this article interrogates the politics and the imperatives; both ethical and practical; that arise from such a challenge. To that end; we look at the goals and conduct of a case study of organizations run by and for resettled refugees in the United States. This study illustrates how challenging policy-defined assumptions and categories; and raising critical perspectives drawn from forced migrants' voices; yields implications for policy. To get there; research moves beyond categories and asks new questions through a deconstructive approach; yet going from here; we argue; entails another role for forced migration research; an active" approach that involves critical translation and application. At this juncture of forced migration research; policy irrelevant research seeks to make itself relevant and reasserts itself in policy discourses."