Carving Out Space for Equitable Collaborative Research in Protracted Displacement


Research collaborations between global north and south have a long history in studies of forced migration, and discussions of power relations in such research relationships have existed for a long time. We are two researchers working across the global south–north divide, and this article reflects on our attempt to navigate the research industry amid the ‘Syrian refugee research complex’. We discuss our attempt to carve out a space for more equitable research collaborations across the north–south divide and between partners. We unpack the existing power dynamics and the systems attached to them, e.g. institutional constraints, funding regulations, budget restrictions, and residues of post-colonial power dynamics. We then reflect on how these dynamics help to maintain the north’s hegemony in the research and knowledge production cycle. We argue that collaborative research can gain from a reflective practice that focuses on the relational aspects involved in research. This can be achieved through a ‘friendship approach’ rather than ‘tick-the-box guidelines’.


Journal of Refugee Studies, Volume 34, Issue 3, September 2021, Pages 2539–2553,