08 Dec Les recits contrastes de la « migration environnementale » : elaboration, usages et effets sur l’action publique
Les recits contrastes de la « migration environnementale » : elaboration, usages et effets sur l’action publique
This research work aims at questioning the variety of narratives used to describe “environmental migration” and the shifting importance given to the matter. Building on a political sociology of ‘public action’ perspective, it undertakes a transnational comparison between international arenas and Malian politics and policies. This study shows that, in a context of multiple political and scientific uncertainties, “environmental migration” narratives are used to add dramatic tension to issues that go beyond the subject of environmentally linked migration, and to construct them as public problems. Three conflicting narratives have been elaborated in the international arenas: the “refugee” narrative, the “natural disaster induced displacement” narrative and the “migration as adaption” narrative. Their multiplication can be explained by their instrumental purpose and by the constant reformulation efforts undertaken by political entrepreneurs in order to include them in the prevailing cognitive and normative frames. As a result, these narratives appear to be out of step with academic findings that insist on the complex causal relationship linking environment to displacement. In Mali, the “refugee” narrative is the one predominantly used by ‘public action’ actors but it is part of a larger discourse focused on climate change, which is used to legitimise development aid flows. The narratives elaborated at the international level are thus selected and adapted to local cognitive and normative frames and agenda setting dynamics.