TransRe maintains a diverse portfolio of publications, including journal articles, working papers, and fact sheets, in order to engage with a wide variety of audiences.

Migration for Adaptation Guidebook | Publications/ Journal Articles | Working Paper Series | Fact Sheet Series

Migration for Adaptation Guidebook


TransRe (2018): Migration for Adaptation. A Guidebook for Integrating Migration and Translocality
into Community-Based Adaptation. Bonn.

This guide makes the case for integrating translocality considerations into relevant aspects of community development work. Such integration is necessary because translocality has direct implications for the outcomes of development work at the local level and beyond. Only through careful planning can development practitioners help shape migration-related outcomes — to both harness positive impacts and limit potential negative aspects of migration and translocality on local livelihoods.

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Publications/ Journal Articles


Peth, S. A.; Sterly, H. & P. Sakdapolrak (2018). Between the village and the global city: the production and decay of translocal spaces of Thai migrant workers in Singapore. Mobilities 13. DOI: 10.1080/17450101.2018.1449785.

This paper explores the mobilities and structural moorings of Thai labour migrants in Singapore from a translocal perspective. We argue that combining the mobilities paradigm with the concept of translocality offers a fruitful avenue of investigation not only of the production of translocal spaces, but also of their temporality and mutability. Through a multi-sited research approach we shed light on the genesis as well as the decay of translocal connections. This paper shows that translocal structures are important moorings of migration, and raises the question of what happens to translocal spaces when migration flows dissolve.

Rigaud, Kanta Kumari; de Sherbinin, Alex; Jones, Bryan; Bergmann, Jonas; Clement, Viviane; Ober, Kayly; Schewe, Jacob; Adamo, Susana; McCusker, Brent; Heuser, Silke; Midgley, Amelia. (2018). Groundswell : Preparing for Internal Climate Migration. World Bank, Washington, DC.

This report, which focuses on three regions—Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America—finds that climate change will push tens of millions of people to migrate within their countries by 2050. It projects that without concrete climate and development action, just over 143 million people—or around 2.8 percent of the population of these three regions—could be forced to move within their own countries to escape the slow-onset impacts of climate change. They will migrate from less viable areas with lower water availability and crop productivity and from areas affected by rising sea level and storm surges. The poorest and most climate vulnerable areas will be hardest hit. These trends, alongside the emergence of “hotspots” of climate in- and out-migration, will have major implications for climate-sensitive sectors and for the adequacy of infrastructure and social support systems. The report finds that internal climate migration will likely rise through 2050 and then accelerate unless there are significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and robust development action.

Ober, K. & P. Sakdapolrak (2017). How do social practices shape policy? Analysing the field of ‘migration as adaptation’ with Bourdieu's ‘Theory of Practice’The Geographical Journal 183 (4): 359-369 doi:10.1111/geoj.12225.

In recent decades, there has been a shift in the climate-migration discourse: from one preoccupied with ‘climate refugees’ to one of ‘migration as adaptation’. Academics and policy-makers alike see migration as a way to generate income, diversify livelihoods, and spread risk in the face of climate change. This paper provides an understanding of the logic and practices of the migration-as-adaptation policy sphere and the limited policy prescriptions related to it as well as suggests sites at which to target interventions for more radical policy imaginings.


Porst, L. & P. Sakdapolrak (2017). How scale matters in translocality: uses and potentials of scale in translocal research, Erdkunde 71 (2): 111-126.

What role does scale play in translocality? In this recent publication, Luise Porst and Patrick Sakdapolrak discuss the uses and potentials of scale in translocal concepts.
Translocality is one approach to better understand mobility of people, or ideas, for instance. Often, scale is taken into account in that research – however, in diverse ways and not necessarily explicitly. In this paper, the authors identify various types of using scale in translocality research and analyze their function in examining the production of translocal space.

Etzold, B. & P. Sakdapolrak (2016). Socio-spatialities of vulnerability: towards a polymorphic perspective in vulnerability research, Die Erde 147 (4), 234-251.

“The space of vulnerability” – the title of the influential paper by Michael Watts and Hans-Georg Bohle from 1993 – highlights the importance of spatiality for vulnerability research. As geographers have fundamentally shaped the concept of vulnerability, the issue of spatiality has been crucial for vulnerability from the outset. However, what notion of space have scholars adopted in their vulnerability analysis? The aim of the paper is to assess the ways in which space has been conceptualised in vulnerability research. We conduct this assessment behind the background of the conceptual development of space in human geography. Of particular interest is the question of how the successive socio-spatial turns identified by Jessop et al. (2008), which evolved around the categories of place, scale, network and territory, are reflected in publications on vulnerability. The assessment is based on a review of the literature. We found that all four key socio-spatial categories have been taken up by scholars for vulnerability analysis. Following Jessop et al., we argue that a critical geography of vulnerability should acknowledge the polymorphy of socio-spatialities and assess the interplay of place, network, scale, and territory in the (re)production of vulnerability. We exemplify the argument with case studies from Bangladesh and Thailand and conclude that the full repertoire of spatial and social theories is needed in order to fully understand the social and spatial (re)production of vulnerability.


Sterly, H., Ober, K. & P. Sakdapolrak (2016). Migration for Human Security? The Contribution of Translocality to Social Resilience, Georgetown Journal of Asian Affairs 3 (1), 57-66.

It is high time to broaden the perspective on the nexus of climate change, migration, and security. This  can be done in at least two ways. First, while migration may be one important aspect of traditional security, a  focus on human security directs our attention towards an issue that is equally important: the especially vulnerable situation and position of the migrants themselves. Second, connectedness established through migration — or “translocal connectedness” — contributes to improved livelihoods and, often, the human security of those left behind. Improved livelihoods of social units, precisely defined as “translocal social resilience,” deserves more attention than it currently receives in both social science and policy.



Sakdapolrak, P., S. Naruchaikusol, K. Ober, S. A. Peth, L. Porst, T. Rockenbauch & V. Tolo (2016). Migration in a changing climate. Towards a translocal social resilience approach, Die Erde 147 (2), 81-94.

Climate change and migration are drawing increasing interest from researchers and policy makers as well as from the general public. While in the beginning a simplistic and geo-deterministic comprehension of the environmental impact on human mobility had dominated the discussion, the framing of the relationship has recently become more differentiated. Vast empirical evidence derived from rural livelihoods research clearly shows that migration is an important strategy of households when dealing with multiple risks, including environmental stress. This has led to the growing acknowledgement of the idea of “migration as adaptation” in migration-environment research. We consider this conceptual development an important step for a better understanding of this nexus. Nonetheless, migration as adaptation has several shortcomings. Firstly, it is narrowly focused on migration as an adaptive response to environmental risks and neglects the significant impact of other forms of migration. Secondly, it does not cover other dimensions of how people, communities and societies deal with environmental change: a blind eye is all too often turned to processes of resilience building. Thirdly, migration as adaptation has been found to be interpreted in a way which justifies migration policies with neo-liberal tendencies. In order to overcome such drawbacks, we propose an approach that integrates translocality and social resilience. In this paper we thus introduce the concept of translocal social resilience and reflect on its conceptual implications. We will thereby show how this approach can improve the understanding of the migration-environment nexus, and how it can also shape the concept of migration as adaptation, allowing for nuanced and critical views on the dynamics in the migration-environment context.


Greiner, C. & Sakdapolrak, P. (2015). Migration, Environment and Inequality: Perspectives of a Political Ecology of Translocal Relations. R. McLeman, J. Schade and T. Faist (Eds.). Environmental Migration and Social Inequality. Springer, Heidelberg.

Research on the relationship between environment and migration – particularly on how the environment influences the decision to migrate – has gained currency in the last decade. The growing body of recent environmental migration literature partly exhibits an under-theorized and depoliticized notion of the environment. Furthermore, migration is usually perceived as an emergency response, as a one-time movement, neglecting the often inherent circularity and continuous feedback effects of migration. In this contribution, we introduce the concepts of translocality and political ecology as a means by which this drawback can be overcome, and propose a political ecology of translocal relations as a framework for research into the migration-environment nexus in general and environmental migration in particular. We consider this to be an important task vis-à-vis the mounting and often reductionist debates.


Hornung, M. & S. A. Peth (2014). Alltag im Hier und Dort - Heiratsmigration und translokale Verflechtungen zwischen Thailand und Deutschland,  Südostasien 4, 25-26.

Im Januar 2014 kommt der Alltag in Bangkok zum Erliegen. Tausende Menschen blockieren die Straßen in der thailändischen Hauptstadt um ihrem Unmut gegen das politische System Ausdruck zu verleihen. Doch die Demonstrierenden sind nicht allein. Unzählige ThailänderInnen aus der ganzen Welt stehen quasi virtuell mit ihnen auf der Straße. Sie verfolgen in Echtzeit die Ereignisse und beteiligen sich durch das Internet an den Protesten. Für viele Menschen ist es längst Alltag, dass sich Orte >übereinanderschieben<. Vor diesem Hintergrund haben sich (Heirats-)Migrationsprozesse in den letzten Jahrzehnten grundlegend verändert.


Fekete, A. & Sakdapolrak, P. (2014). Loss and Damage as an Alternative to Resilience and Vulnerability? Preliminary Reflections on an Emerging Climate Change Adaptation Discourse.  International Journal of Disaster Risk Science 5(1), 88-93.

One relatively novel way of assessing the characteristics and limitations of resilience and vulnerability (R&V) is undertaken in this article by investigating a growing alternative paradigm—loss and damage (L&D) policy. The idea of L&D as an emerging policy may be surprising to many in the disaster risk management community, and so we first outline the origins of this trend, and then explore the potential benefits and pitfalls of adopting it. This short article represents our preliminary opinions and observations regarding this reintroduction of a long-established concept. We also present results from a very brief peer-group survey on some of the first immediate reactions towards L&D policy. At this early stage, this article cannot offer a full-fledged analysis, but our reflections may serve as a starting point to encourage further discussion.


Sakdapolrak, P. (2014). Livelihoods as social practices. Re-energising livelihoods research with Bourdieu's theory of practice. Geographica Helvetica 69, 1–10.

The persisting problem of poverty in the global south, since the 1990s, has been increasingly analysed and tackled from the perspective of the poor themselves. The shift of view point from a structurally oriented perspective to a more actor-oriented view was closely related to the concept of livelihoods, which put strong emphasis on people-centredness, and examined the coping and survival strategies of people at risk. Livelihoods analysis has been widely applied by research scholars as well as development practitioners since the 1990s, but the drawbacks and pitfalls of the approach have become more and more obvious with its continued application. The approach has been criticised for its imbalanced consideration of the structure–agency relation, narrow focus on the household as a unit of analysis, narrow and non-embedded understanding of assets, and negligence of spatial and temporal dynamics. The livelihoods perspective is at a crossroads. Several scholars have drawn on Bourdieu’s theory of practice to overcome the identified challenges. This article seeks to bring together these insights and show how a Bourdieusian perspective can inform and contribute to the advancements in livelihoods research.


Greiner, C. & Sakdapolrak, P. (2013). Translocality: Concepts, Applications and Emerging Research Perspectives. Geography Compass, 7(5), 373–384.

The employment of translocality as a research perspective is currently gaining momentum. A growing number of scholars from different research traditions concerned with the dynamics of mobility, migration and socio-spatial interconnectedness have developed conceptual approaches to the term. In this review, we trace the emergence of the idea of translocality and summarize the characteristics that different authors associate with the term. We elucidate the underlying notions of mobility and place and sketch out fields of research where the concept has been employed. On the basis of our findings, we conclude by proposing key areas where a translocal approach has the potential to generate fruitful insights.


Keck, M. & Sakdapolrak, P. (2013). What is social resilience? Lessons learned and ways forward. Erdkunde, 67(1), 5-19.

Over the last decade, a growing body of literature has emerged which is concerned with the question of what form a promising concept of social resilience might take. In this article we argue that social resilience has the potential to be crafted into a coherent analytic framework that can build on scientific knowledge from the established concept of social vulnerability, and offer a fresh perspective on today's challenges of global change. Based on a critical review of recently published literature on the issue, we propose to define social resilience as being comprised of three dimensions: 1. Coping capacities; 2. Adaptive capacities; and 3. Transformative capacities.


Working Papers

The working paper series aims to disseminate our most up to date research, stimulate discussion, and provoke feedback. TransRe working papers (WP) are typically works in progress and contain very early stage research, analysis, findings, and/or recommendations. There are four different types of working papers: 1) #Concepts - which analyzes more general or theoretical issues; 2) #Thesis - which will present bachelor and master's students' thesis work; 3) #Evidence - which will introduce more empirical information, and 4) #Methods - which explores ways in which to operationalize complex issues on the environment and migration.

Latest issues:

Operationalizing Migration Impacts for Index-Based Disaster Risk Assessments

by Svenja Enge
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TransRe Working Paper No 7

Operationalizing Migration Impacts for Index-Based Disaster Risk Assessments

A Systematic Approach to Migration as Multidimensional Risk Dynamic

by Svenja Enge

Migration is one of the most important population dynamics in the world and thus has diverse impacts on socio-ecological systems, including their risk to be harmed by disasters.
However, the prevailing one-sided notion of migration as mostly risk increasing factor in current index-based disaster risk assessments lags far behind the multifaceted academic discourse about migration impacts on particularly vulnerability and resilience dynamics. At the same time, index-based risk assessments are a widely used tool in policy making, whose missing incorporation of a holistic migration theory is one factor questioning its imprudent application.
This thesis seeks to reflect on this issue by taking a systematic approach to address conceptual, theoretical and practical questions concerning the operationalization of migration in index-based disaster risk analysis. The results are a new conceptual model to combine migration and disaster risk theory, an assessment of the current recognition of migration in disaster risk indices, and a literature- and expert interview-based development and discussion of potential migration-related risk indicators, which could enhance a better incorporation of migration impacts in disaster risk analysis in the future.

Language of the Working Paper: English

KEYWORDS: Risk Analysis, Migration, Disaster Risk Indices, Vulnerability Indicator, Resilience Indicator, Mobility

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Supplementary Material:

Annex I - German Abstract Dowload here
Annex II - Currently Used Migration-Related Disaster Risk Indicators | Full Table Dowload here
Annex III - Conceptual/ Empirical Validity of Migration Impacts | Full Table Dowload here
Annex IV - Expert Survey (blank) Dowload here

All Working Papers:


Building resilience through translocality. Climate change, migration and social resilience of rural communities in Thailand
by Dr. Patrick Sakdapolrak

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Deciphering migration in the age of climate change. Towards an understanding of translocal relations in socialecological systems

by Dr. Clemens Greiner; Simon A. Peth; and Dr. Patrick Sakdapolrak

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Translocality: Place, Space – and Scale?
Luise Porst

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Migrationspfade und Arbeitsräume in Bangladesch -Translokale Lebenssicherung in einer sich
wandelnden (Um)Welt 

by Simon Alexander Peth

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Operationalizing Migration Impacts for Index-Based Disaster Risk Assessments

by Svenja Enge

More Info
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Translokalität als Aspekt sozialer Resilienz - Ein Fallbeispiel zur Rolle von Migration und Rimessen für die
soziale Resilienz im ländlichen Nordthailand

by Alexander Reif

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Migrants at Risk - Responses of Rural-Urban Migrants to the Floods of 2011 in Thailand

by Anja Gänsbauer, Sumiya Bilegsaikhan, Alexander Trupp, Patrick Sakdapolrak

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Fact Sheets

This fact sheet series aims to foster dialogue between scientists, practitioners, and the public. It focuses thematically on the complex relationship between migration, environmental change, and adaptation. It aims to disseminate scientific results, news, and other interesting information in a brief and accessible way.


Climate Change and its impact in Thailand
by Sopon Naruchaikusol

In 2011, Thailand was underwater: more than one million people were affected by severe flooding for several weeks as a result of persistent rainfall (World Bank, 2011). In 2015-16 Thailand has been experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades, leading to critical low levels of water reservoirs countrywide (NHC, 2016). Even though future climate change scenarios are still being debated, it is likely that Thailand will be disproportionately affected by the consequences of climate change. TransRe fact sheet No. 2 provides an overview of a) past climate trends, b) future climate scenarios, and c) its expected impacts.


How the IPCC views migration. An assessment of migration in the IPCC AR5
by Kayly Ober

The recent IPCC assessment report of Working Group II (AR5 WGII) gives a thorough, balanced, and nuanced picture of the impacts of climate change on human social dimensions. However, its view on migration is a bit more varied. This fact sheet seeks to delve into three different groups of thought that come up throughout the report. These include, viewing migration as: 1) negative/maladaptive; 2) adaptation; and 3) a possible research subject for the future.

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Who we are

We are a BMBF supported research group seeking to decipher the relationships between migration, translocality, and social resilience to climate change in Thailand. Our working group is based at the Department of Geography at the University of Bonn, Germany. Get to know our team...



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