Department of Global Development Studies


Global Development Studies

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Title: Neoliberalism, Dispossession and Forced Displacement: Investigating Morocco and Tunisia’s Migrant Crisis

Date:  Monday January 28, 2019
Venue: Jeffrey Hall, Room 225
Time: 10:00 AM - 11:30 PM
Speaker: Angela Joya, Department of International Studies, University of Oregon

In December of 2018 more than 163 countries, including Canada, signed on to the United Nations Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The Compact is a response to the contemporary refugee/migrant crisis with the goal of addressing the root causes of forced migration. That Morocco was the setting for this significant global conference was no coincidence. The Middle East and North Africa have been at the center of the contemporary refugee/migrant crisis, with thousands risking their lives attempting to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe. While the wars and conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa have been a main driver of the displacement of people, the economic reforms associated with the neoliberal development project (such as, agricultural reform, labour market restructuring and privatization) have also played an important role. In the literature on global migration and forced displacement, however, the links between neoliberal development policies and forced displacement have not been sufficiently established. In this talk, I argue that the economic reform policies associated with neoliberal globalization have contributed to the forced displacement of people from Morocco and Tunisia. This raises questions about the feasibility of liberal approaches to migration that are rooted in a refugee/migrant distinction, and the inability of the global Compact to get to the root of the migration problem by failing to problematize the neoliberal development model they continue to promote.

Angela Joya

Kelsey Norman

Angela Joya's research focuses on  economic globalization (neoliberalism) and the ways this phenomenon shapes the relationships among various social classes, the institutions and practices of the state.  She has researched the impact of economic liberalization and privatization on workers' and peasants' livelihoods in the post 1990 period. She has written about the struggles against neoliberalism by workers, peasants and other social groups, which culminated into the popular uprisings that swept across the Middle East and North Africa. Since the Arab uprisings of 2010-2011, she has focused on the popular contestations of the economic and political systems in the MENA region and the role of international financial institutions in the region. Dr. Joya's current research project examines the current migrant/refugee crisis in the Mediterranean in the context of global development policies. She has conducted fieldwork in Egypt, Palestine, Jordan and Turkey, Greece and France. Dr. Joya is currently completing her book manuscript titled "From Dispossession to Revolt: The Political Economy of Egypt under Mubarak" :