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Active Waiting and Changing Hopes

Toward a Time Perspective on Protracted Displacement

Cathrine Brun

This article introduces a time perspective on 'protracted displacement' and seeks to theorize 'agency-in-waiting' through a focus on the ways in which people simultaneously carry on during displacement, feel trapped in the present, and actively relate to alternative notions of the future. The article analyzes the protracted case of internally displaced Georgians from Abkhazia and the dominant discourse of return that characterizes their lives in displacement. Changing notions of hope are analyzed in order to understand the role that an uncertain future plays and the potential for agency that people develop during displacement. Agency-in-waiting and future perspectives, it is suggested, contribute valuable conceptual and political dimensions to the ways in which protracted displacement can be understood and addressed.