If ‘it all breaks down’: The Norwegian refugee crisis as a geography of chaos

Journal article

Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen; Kristin Bergtora Sandvik & Mathias Hatleskog Tjønn (2023) If ‘it all breaks down’: The Norwegian refugee crisis as a geography of chaos, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/02637758231203822.

Journal article page:

How did the arrival of growing numbers of refugees and migrants in a non-violent setting and high-income country like Norway become framed as a ‘humanitarian crisis’ and with what consequences? In this article, we examine the framing and responses to the influx of refugees and other migrants to Norway in 2015–16, in and around Oslo and in the Arctic region of Storskog, along the Russian border. Our analysis draws on two theoretical contributions: work on ‘crisis and chaos’ and the idea of ‘chaotic geographies’, and work on the ‘humanitarian arena’ . Taking a tripartite approach, we study how time, space and different levels of response (citizen volunteers, established humanitarian actors and the state) contributed to the framing of the situation as a humanitarian crisis, and the consequences of this. We show that Norway is a political and geographical outlier, and that the state’s response to this ‘humanitarian crisis’ and potentially chaotic situation was seen as both appropriate and legitimate. We argue this helped ‘de-escalate’ the chaotic geography.

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