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Strategic Indifference: Understanding Responses to Migrant and Refugee Settlement in Mediterranean Host Countries

Monday, February 4, 2019
10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Jeffery Hall
Room: Room 225
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Presenter:  Dr. Kelsey Norman, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia

Many countries are simultaneously countries of emigration, transit, and immigration. Focusing on three states in the South and Eastern Mediterranean region—Egypt, Morocco and Turkey – this presentation asks how they manage these different roles. Through data collected from more than 150 interviews across the three countries, I present a menu of policies through which states address new patterns of migrant and refugee settlement. I examine when and why countries switch from one policy to another, finding that states may pursue changing combinations of policies over time depending on perceived diplomatic or economic benefits. This research reframes host states in the Global South as strategic actors when it comes to migration policy, carefully selecting the policy most suitable to their domestic and foreign policy goals while also attempting to utilize as few state resources as possible. Finally, I show what different host state policy options mean for individual migrants and refugees who find themselves ‘stuck’ in countries thought to be spaces of transit. I demonstrate that even in situations of informality and absent meaningful international protection, migrants and refugees find access to livelihoods and ways of sending their children to school, form communities, and engage in social and sometimes political activities.


Barbra Brousseau
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