Call for proposals: IASFM20 – Forced Displacement in an Urbanizing World

The 20th International Association for the Study of Forced Migration Conference (IASFM20)

Forced Displacement in an Urbanizing World
Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 21-23 January 2025

The 20th IASFM conference will be hosted in Indonesia by Resilience Development Initiative – Urban Refugees Research Group (RDI UREF) in collaboration with the Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Cultural Sciences, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia.

Place : Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Date: January 21-23, 2025

Two workshops for young researchers will be offered as a pre-conference program on January 20, 2025 (more information on the workshop below).

View the call online here:


Forced migration continues to be a prevalent phenomenon in the Global South where states are taking on a large share of the global responsibility of hosting refugees, while having to also deal with internal forced displacement due to an array of reasons including development and climate change. In the Asia Pacific region, UNHCR (2022) reported around 14.3 million people are displaced; these consist of people who are forcibly displaced, stateless, returnees or others of concern to UNHCR. Globally, UNHCR (2023) predicts that more than 60 percent of displaced people live in urban areas. Within the Global South, the Asia-Pacific region in particular has also been afflicted by a rapid increase of forced migration to urban areas. The case can be seen in Indonesia. Hosting the 20th IASFM Conference in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, allows us to assess local approaches to engaging with forced migration issues. In response to increased forced migration, many states with postcolonial societies are redefining the meaning of borders and hospitality toward external forced migrants and refugees, while struggling to survive cope with internal displacement (both nationally and regionally) through dispossession of their land and belongings in unpredictable political, economic, and ecological conditions. Under this precarious situation, the displaced communities face multiple challenges from the other urban dwellers and the local government. Furthermore, they are also constantly expected to operate and accommodate the comfort of more powerful parties such as resettlement countries and global migration regimes for international refugees and the national development projects for internal displaced persons.

Focusing on the intersections of forced displacement, urbanisation and urban studies, IASFM20 aims to highlight spaces that are co-creating knowledge production through research led by refugees, displaced persons, and migrants urban setting contexts; spaces making for all types of displacement; collaboration between a host society and refugees, displaced peoples, and migrants; protection practices beyond the scope of existing legal frameworks, and multifaceted transformations in cities.


The IASFM20 Program Committee invites researchers, individuals with lived experiences related to (forced) migration, policy makers, and practitioners working with (forced) migrants to submit (a) proposals for organized panels (b) individual papers for oral presentations, (c) abstracts for poster presentation, and (d) proposals for creative works presentation (a multimodal combination of a paper abstract with performative, visual, poetic, or interactive presentation such as short film, audio, song/music, poem/prose/short stories, photo series, or theatrical performance).

While we will accept Individual Papers, we will prioritize Organized Panel presentations over Individual Paper submissions. Organized Panel proposals must adhere to the theme of the conference. It is recommended that each panel should consist of at least one panel coordinator and two to three panelists. Prospective panel coordinators must compile all member abstracts and include them in their panel proposal. All presenters and panel coordinators for accepted panels should register for the conference individually.

Submission instructions

(a) Panel proposal:

Please submit an abstract (500 words or less) for each presenter, along with an overall abstract (500 words or less) for the panel that describes the panel theme and its importance. Abstracts for each presenter should have information about background and purpose, methods, results, and conclusion and implications. Preference will be given to panels that demonstrate cohesiveness across presentations. Panels will be accepted or rejected together, i.e., abstracts will not be accepted independently.

(b) Oral paper presentation:

Please submit an abstract (500 words or less) explaining background and purpose, methods, results, and conclusion and implications.

(c) Poster presentation:

Please submit an abstract (500 words or less) explaining background and purpose, methods, results, and conclusion and implications.

(d) Proposals for creative works presentation:

Please submit a long abstract (800 words or less) explaining background and purpose, type of creative work, significance and innovation, and conclusion and implications.

The official language of the IASFM is English. All papers and panel discussions must be conducted in English.


Theme 1: Global agenda for international migration

Presentations may cover the following topics:

  • Revisiting the global agenda on displacement and migration (the Global Compacts and the New Urban Agenda) and how they intertwine with other relevant global agendas (Paris Agreement, Sendai Framework, Nansen Initiative, etc.)
  • Global agreements, regional approaches, and national and local implementation, city networks and city diplomacy
  • International refugee regime, neo-colonialism, connection between origin-transit-destination
  • Displaced persons, migrants, and refugee receptions in the Global South
  • Displaced persons, migrants, refugee protection mechanisms, legal pluralism, universal vs relative norms; common law vs traditional law in relation to forced displacement;
  • Non-signatory countries to the 1951 Refugee Convention and shared responsibilities
  • Emerging topics: economic/environment/climate-induced refugees, irregular migrants, and internal displacement due to neoliberalism, globalisation, heightened securitisation, and border externalisation.
  • Inclusion of refugees’ voices


Theme 2: (Re)conception of Urban Displacement and the “Right to the City”.

Presentations may cover the following topics:

  • Risk mitigation and durable solutions for multilayered causes of urban displacement: human-induced disasters, environmental and climate change, social/political situations leading to protracted conflicts, impact of large infrastructure and development projects, gendered identity, health, disease, and the pandemic;
  • Cities’ readiness to deal with urban displacement: basic infrastructure and service provision for displaced populations, accommodation and integration. The topic includes but is not limited to: from camps to urban; spatial planning for future displacement; undocumented migrants as urban workforces in Asian cities; Indigenous peoples, the city and forced migration;
  • De facto integration through social, economic, and cultural interactions; livelihoods of refugees in non-signatory countries; and Internally Displaced Populations (IDPs) in protracted situations;
  • Collaboration between host society with refugees/ displaced people;
  • Multifaceted transformation in cities, gentrification, and urban informalities;
  • Rights to the City for forced migrants and refugees in competition with existing urban dwellers;
  • Access to higher education for displaced communities in urban setting;
  • Long term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on urban displaced populations; access to healthcare system;
  • The social fabrics of urban displacement, community development, identity building;
  • Cultural induced displacement;
  • Urban displacement and multiple vulnerabilities: women, children, elderly, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+;
  • Climate displacement in Pacific nations, 20+ years after the Aceh Tsunami and its impact on disaster management and urban displacement.


Theme 3: Knowledge Production on Urban Displacement.

Presentations may cover the following topics:

  • Interconnectedness of international organizations, government, and civil society groups;
  • Research approaches and methodologies on urban displacement; co-designing with vulnerable populations; evidence-based policy recommendations;
  • Private sector; private foundations; charities; high net worth individuals and youth influencers;
  • Self-reliance efforts from the perspective of displaced populations;
  • Arts as a medium for participation and advocacy;
  • Innovative approaches, programs or activities in responding to urban displacement;
  • Innovative funding for current and future displacement;
  • Preparing displaced youth for the future of work (formal education, informal training, alternative schooling, entrepreneurship);
  • Disruptive technology and urban displacement (spatial data and visualization, use of geotagging technology, dating apps and social media).


Special Theme: Asia Pacific Focus.

Presentations will focus on regional approaches and urban displacement in the Asia Pacific. It will cover discussions on the following topics:

  • Bali process, ASEAN, SAARC, Pacific Island Forums, and other multilateral cooperation in the region;
  • Rohingya displacement;
  • Refugee-led movements and advocacy to obtain the right to the city.

Please submit your abstract proposal online at this link: Call for Proposals | IASFM20: Forced Displacement in an Urbanizing World ( The deadline for abstract submissions is  May 31, 2024. There will be no extension of the deadline.

Pre-Conference Workshops

Two workshops for interested graduate students or early career researchers are available on 20 January 2025. Each workshop will run for around 3 hours and will accept a maximum of 30 participants. Participants can register for the workshop(s) and pay separate workshop fees during the conference registration.

Workshop themes:

  1. Creative research methods and ethics of conducting research on forced displacement
  2. Design-led thinking and forced displacement as a wicked problem1

1 Wicked problems, a term first coined by Rittel and Webber (1973), refers to non-rational, complex problems that cannot be solved with traditional design approaches but requires creative approach. In their words, wicked problems are “the problems of governmental planning — and especially those of social or policy planning — that are ill-defined and rely upon elusive political judgment for resolution … and they include nearly all public policy issues”. The term ‘wicked problem’ was initially used to look at urban growth and planning problems in the US in the 1970s, but has since been widely used to challenge planning and management issues in a wide range of fields. For further reading: Rittel, Horst W. J. and Melvin M. Webber. “Dilemmas in a general theory of planning.” Policy Sciences 4 (1973): 155-169.

Conference Registration

IASFM20 registration will open in July 2024. Please note that all presenters attending must register. As presenters at IASFM conferences must be members, the conference registration fee includes a membership valid until the next IASFM conference. Modest travel subsidies will be available based on financial need. The subsidy application will be made available in May 2024. Unfortunately, IASFM is not in a position to fully fund anyone’s travel. Participants should continue to look for other sources of funding.


If you have technical difficulties in submitting your abstract proposal, please contact Michele Millard at

Questions around the program or other general inquiries can be emailed to