Introduction to the Special Issue: Resilience and Wellbeing in Forced Migration



This set of articles is the result of a panel held at the 78th annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology from April 3-7, 2018, in Philadelphia, United States of America. The title of the panel, during which the four authors presented papers, was “Forced Migration as Liminal Experience: Policy and Agency.” The articles highlight forced migration to the United States, illustrated by Hispanic women without legal immigration status near Chicago, Illinois; resettled Syrian refugees in Austin, Texas; resettled Cambodian refugees living near Mobile, Alabama; Karen refugees resettled near Atlanta, Georgia; and Karenni refugees who were resettled in Omaha, Nebraska. These articles reveal lives of both refugees with legal status and forced migrants without legal documentation. This set of articles also represents national and ethnic groups from Latin America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, regions with large numbers of forced migrants. The articles focus on the intersection of three concepts with complex and varying definitions: migration, resilience, and wellbeing. These concepts highlight differing social and cultural contexts but also shared experiences and struggles. We briefly describe our understanding of these concepts and then highlight how these are useful conceptual frameworks to see commonalities and differences among the four different case studies.


Adger, W. N., Kelly, P. M., Winkels, A., L. Q. Huy, and Locke C. (2002). Migration, remittances, livelihood trajectories, and social sesilience. Ambio, 31, 4: 358-366.

Adger, W. N., Barnett, J., Chapin, F. S., and Ellemore, H. (2011). This must be the place: Underrepresentation of identity and meaning in climate change decision-making. Global Environmental Politics, 11, 2: 1-25.

Antonovsky, A. (1993). The structure and properties of the sense of coherence scale. Social Science and Medicine, 36, 6: 725-733.

Bartone, P. T., Ursano, R. J., Wright, K. M., and Ingraham, L. H. (1989). The impact of a military air disaster on the health of assistance workers: A prospective study. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 177: 317-328.

Betts, A. (2013). Survival migration: Failed governance and the crisis of displacement. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Carver, C. S. (1998). Resilience and thriving: Issues, models, and linkages. Journal of Social Issues, 54: 245-266.

Choi, J. Y. (2013). Reconstruction of health-seeking behaviors: A comparative study of three Asian Pacific immigrant groups. Qualitative Health Research, 23(4), 517-530.

Kandula, N. R., Kersey, M., & Lurie, N. (2004). Assuring the health of immigrants: What the leading health indicators tell us. Annual Review Of Public Health, 25, 357-376.

Kok, P. (1999). The Definition of migration and its application: Making sense of recent South African census and survey Data. South African Journal of Demography, 7, 1: 19-30.

Meadows, S. O., Miller, L. L., and Robson, S. (2015). Airman and Family Resilience. Santa Monica: Rand Corporation.

Shaw, R. P. (1975). Migration Theory and Fact. Philadelphia: Regional Science Research Institute.

Stiglitz, J. E., Sen, A. and Fitoussi, J. P. (2009). Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress. Retrieved from

Tedeschi, R., and Calhoun, L. (2004). Posttraumatic growth: Conceptual foundations and empirical evidence. Psychological Inquiry, 15: 1-18.

UNHCR (2018). The 1951 Refugee Convention. Retrieved from

United States Department of Health and Human Services. (2015). Community resilience. Retrieved from

Veenhoven, R. (1991). The four qualities of life: Ordering concepts and measures of good life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1: 1-39.

Wald, J., Taylor, S., Asmundson, G. J. G., Jang, K., and Stapleton, J. (2006). Literature Review of Concepts - Psychological Resiliency. Toronto: Defense R&D Canada.

Wiseman, J. & Brasher, K. (2008). Community wellbeing in an unwell world: Trends, challenges, and possibilities. Journal of Public Health Policy, 29, 3: 353-366.




How to Cite

Introduction to the Special Issue: Resilience and Wellbeing in Forced Migration. (2019). Migration Letters, 16(3), 355–359.