The Governance of Reception Facilities for Refugees in Luxembourg: Local and Global Perspectives (REFUGOV)

REFUGOV deals with the governance of reception facilities for refugees (reception centres, refugee camps), with a particular focus on the role of local and municipal actors. The project looks at institutional settings, governance processes and their effect on the inclusion or exclusion of refugees, and on the subjectivities of refugees. Extending beyond the categories of global south and north, the case studies are Luxembourg and Jordan.

A permanent temporariness

Over the last few years, Luxembourg has responded to the arrival of asylum seekers by setting up temporary reception facilities. More generally, across the world, refugees are accommodated in similar infrastructures, known as either reception centres or refugee camps. The use of these facilities, and the length of time their residents stay in them, often lead to a situation of permanent temporariness, raising questions about the integration of refugees. Are they included in, or excluded from, national territory and its society?

Focusing on the governance of these facilities and their effects on the subjectivities of residents, the REFUGOV research project was prompted by two observations. Firstly, in many countries facilities are located within local authority territories yet the local authorities are often not officially in charge of them. The facilities are set up by central government and operated under its supervision. Yet local authorities are often indirectly involved, for example through the provision of municipal services. Secondly, in studies in the fields of forced migration and camps, there is a lack of research perspective on the governance of reception facilities across the global north and south, and especially with a focus on the role of local authorities.

To meet these research needs, this research project of the University of Luxembourg builds on insights from refugee camps in Jordan, a country which has experienced the presence of permanent-temporary reception facilities for 70 years, comparing them with processes of refugee reception in Luxembourg.


  1. to develop a more global approach to analysing the governance of refugee reception facilities, extending beyond the global north-south divide;
  2. to develop a better understanding of the role of local governance in relation to refugee reception across the global north-south divide;
  3. to understand better the specificities in Luxembourg of the governance of reception facilities from the perspective of global processes of refugee reception.

The aims of REFUGOV not only contribute to academic debate but are also addressed to policymakers, practitioners, refugees themselves, and the general public.

A qualitative design

Funded by the National Research Fund Luxembourg (FNR) and based at the Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning at the University of Luxembourg, REFUGOV is a three-year research project (May 2018-April 2021).

The research is based on a qualitative design. In Luxembourg, all data are gathered by conducting semi-structured interviews with actors involved in the governance of reception facilities and local authorities. It also involves in-depth interviews with asylum seekers and refugees, and photographs taken by participants. In Jordan, where the project team has previously conducted research, it consists of an update of data by conducting semi-structured interviews with actors involved in the governance of refugee camps and local authorities in a new fieldwork site.

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