Seminar on recovery after forced urban relocation by Gillian Cornish

Forced relocation is the process of intentionally displacing people and moving them to a new location. People affected by forced relocation experience heightened impoverishment risks and severe and long-lasting economic, psycho-socio-cultural impacts and spatial marginalisation. The documentation of these impacts is underreported in urban contexts, where the forced movement of people are more likely to comprise of marginalised groups of heterogeneous poor communities with income-generating activities closely linked with their local area.

This presentation provides key findings from Gillian Cornish’s PhD dissertation that examined the recovery process of people who were forced to relocate from central Yangon, Myanmar, to the city’s outskirts in 1991. It will focus on three aspects of recovery: regaining access to economic assets, developing a habitable environment and fostering a ‘sense of belonging’. It draws on data from semi-structured interviews conducted over three field visits with 66 participants. The main contributions of the research include the dynamic and reactive nature of livelihood recovery, how different kinds of social capital (bonding, bridging and linking) are used for recovery efforts, and what ‘belongingness’ means for people forced to live in a new location with strangers leaving behind meaningful places and socially cohesive communities.

Title: How do people ‘settle in’ after being forced to move? A case study in Yangon, Myanmar

When: 10 September 2020 12:00pm–1:00pm


Speaker: Gillian Cornish

Gillian Cornish is a PhD Candidate at SEES where her research focusses on urban poverty and livelihood recovery after forced relocation in Yangon, Myanmar. Gillian is an urban planner and social development researcher working across urban studies, human geography and international development in cities and extractive industries. She has over 10 years experience working as a consultant and researcher in Australia and Myanmar. Gillian has led and coordinated social research projects of forced resettlement and relocation caused by dams, mines and urban expansion, focussing on gender, income, environment and health impacts of those affected. Gillian’s interest is in understanding and improving outcomes for people impacted by major projects through livelihood recovery processes and different formations of social capital.