FACULTY OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
CONFLICT ANALYSIS & RESOLUTION / POLITICAL SCIENCE SEMINAR
PhD in Political Science, Indiana University, Bloomington
June 5, 2018 11.00-12.30
How do civilians decide when to leave their homes during conflict? Existing research emphasizes the role of violence in driving civilian migration decisions. Yet, migration timing often does not correspond with the timing of violence. To explain this discrepancy, I argue that violence fits within broader considerations of motivation and opportunity to migrate. Witnessing violence triggers posttraumatic growth that delays narrative ruptures and the subsequent migration that they motivate. Civilians who have wasta—an advantaged social position resulting from some combination of money and connections—have the opportunity to migrate safely. Civilians who possess both motivation and opportunity migrate earlier. I use over 170 structured interviews with Syrian refugees in Turkey to test this argument. Descriptively, respondents who did not witness violence (early motivation) left their homes seven months earlier, on average. Respondents with wasta (opportunity) left their homes one full year earlier, on average. Respondents who both did not witness violence (early motivation) and had wasta (opportunity) left their homes approximately one and a half years earlier, on average. Cox proportional hazard models reveal that respondents only migrated earlier in the conflict if they had both early motivation and opportunity. Open-ended responses from the interviews support the quantitative results and help explain their causal mechanisms. These findings contribute to understandings of conflict-induced migration, civil war, and the Syrian conflict.