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Milena Belloni (University of Antwerp)

4 May 2023 @ 14:00 - 15:15


  • Past event


4 May 2023
14:00 - 15:15
Event Category:
Academic Events

The Big Gamble: insights into migrants’ decision-making

Abstract. Legal channels of geographic mobility are progressively diminishing, and a significant number of migrants try to overcome national borders in unauthorized and dangerous ways. Most of these attempts are commonly explained by referring to migrants’ desperation. However, this interpretation can only partially make sense of realities on the ground. Eritrean migrants’ trajectories show that their movements cannot be reduced to simple mechanical reactions to danger and that a space for choice, although often severely constrained, exists even in refugee flows. Drawing on two years of ethnographic fieldwork in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and Italy, this presentation illustrates how migrants weigh the risk of staying versus the risk of leaving at different stages of their trajectory. It argues that concepts developed in the studies of gamblers can illuminate some of the social, moral and cognitive mechanisms influencing refugees’ decision-making and allow us to grasp the dilemmas they face along the way.