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Session Overview
4-SP089: Migrant Struggles for Social Justice
Tuesday, 06/July/2021:
3:30pm - 4:45pm

Session Chair: Prof. Maria del Carmen Villarreal Villamar, Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO), Brazil
Session Chair: Dr. Enara Echart Muñoz, Unirio, Brazil
Session Chair: Marta Carballo de la Riva, UCM, Switzerland

Session Abstract

Social justice as the backbone of peace and an essential component of sustainable human development, places migration as key element in the construction of contemporary society. We want to analyze experiences that rescue the agency and autonomy of the migrant population and that consider their struggles, forms of mobilization, solidarity and their contributions in the creation of more inclusive and equitable societies. In that way, this workshop is open to proposals from academics, social organizations and grassroot movements that present or analyze these struggles in all their diversity around the world.

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The (In)visibility Paradox: Coloniality and Gender in the Context of Congolese Refugee Women in Rio de Janeiro

Gabriella Vieira Coutinho

Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This research is a result of both empirical practices and theoretical procedures which associated led to a critical analysis of how coloniality and gender roles were crucial on Congolese women migration. We have established here a 20 year theoretical frame between 1996 and 2016: the first date mentioned is considered remarkable due to the first DRC war, and the second was particular to Rio de Janeiro state, once that was the first time that Congolese people reached the second position in number of refugees recognized as so. However it is a contemporary work (mostly based on post-colonial/decolonial history), that was mandatory a detour on DRC’s historical background to access coloniality and gender isues as pivotal roles to Congolese women ‘on the move’. We focused our empirical research on two dimensions, following a vast bibliographical and documentary material (considering all the face-to-face meetings/interviews at PARES Cáritas RJ, a humanitarian organization responsible for ‘policies’ for refugees in Rio de Janeiro) and participant observation, where the researcher is involved in order to gather information, needed here to draw the “arrival map” to Brazil (built at the end of the work). Finally, this work has on the subject refugee-Congolese-woman its fundamental matter, considering their battles and losses in a violent country stuck in a long-lasting war, not to mention their agency, their “scape-to-life” movement to Rio de Janeiro, a whole new city where tactics made by them range from fairly adaptation/integration to struggle along the rough road of local public policies.

Civil Society Solidarity Initiatives Supporting Migrant Refugees

Claudia Beatriz Sanchez Bajo

University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

The number of refugees and internally displaced people has reached a peak since the end of World War II. Millions are on the move while others remain displaced for decades. In response, peacebuilding and conflict transformation approaches are focusing on agency capabilities with the support of civil society initiatives. Agency is seen as vital for a fair and just society.

This paper proposes a grounded discussion on more than 30 experiences in both developed and less developed countries of cooperative work supporting refugees and migrants, based on interviews and literature survey collected during a research project by this author for the ILO. At the time, the ILO, for their own work, requested this research to differentiate initiatives based on origin of the initiative, whether refugees were taking initiative on their own, or other civil society actors on their behalf, or together. The ILO paper per se will not be presented but the cases identified will be the thrust of analysis. Some of the cases will be brought on, updated. And the original ILO work is available upon direct request.

The proposal here is an analysis of the emerging patterns and linkages to theoretical frameworks, sometimes argued and built by the participants themselves. The main goal is to contribute to theoretical development to better understand the processes of agency in building sustainable development that is both inclusive and peaceful.


Sanchez Bajo, C. 2016. “Cooperatives and Refugees”. Unpublished mimeo. See two page summary based on findings and recommendations here:

Examples of other work done in the area (work, qualitative research):

Sanchez Bajo, C. 2019 Work and cooperatives: A century of ILO interaction with the cooperative movement, in Cooperatives and the world of work, chapter 1, Routledge, (

Sanchez Bajo, C. 2014. Introduction to Qualitative Research on Cooperative Enterprises, University of Winnipeg, Canada, slides presentation at the 2014 SSHRC (casc-2014-research-design-presentation-by-claudia-sanchez-bajo.pdf)

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