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Title: The Political Effects of Hosting Refugees on Local Communities
Authors: Zhou, Yang-Yang
Advisors: Dancygier, Rafaela
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Africa
national identity
Subjects: Political science
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Few political issues today are as contentious as migration, particularly with respect to forced displacement. The number of people forced to leave their homes due to conflict and other forms of persecution is unprecedented. As this population continues to grow, so do concerns about how the local, host communities are affected. My research is unified by the desire to understand the complex dynamics surrounding national identity, conflict, and development in the context of forced migration. In this dissertation, I ask: how does the presence of refugee communities reshape the social and political identities and behaviors of nearby citizens, and affect levels of development and risk of conflict in hosting areas? To address these questions, I use surveys, interviews and focus groups, novel statistical methods, and a variety of original, geo-referenced data sources. Regionally, I focus on the Global South, which hosts the vast majority of the world's growing displaced populations, but is nonetheless understudied. In Chapter 2, I theorize that host citizens who are more exposed to refugee communities increase their national identification and feel greater resource resentment. Taken together, these channels activate their sense of shared citizenship, which in turn leads them to collectively demand better public goods provision. To support this theory, I draw on several pieces of original evidence: focus groups, elite interviews, a survey experiment, and public goods data collected in a refugee-hosting region of north-west Tanzania. While I find that citizen mobilization and political development can emerge from resentment of refugees, Chapter 3 documents the exclusionary effects of anti-migrant bias. By combining new data on refugee locations with the Afrobarometer survey, I show that exposure to refugees can increase public support for restricting legal access to citizenship, particularly birthright citizenship. Lastly, in Chapter 4, my co-authored research finds that globally, the presence of refugees has a null and, in some cases, even a negative effect on the likelihood of conflict in hosting areas, possibly due to the positive effects on local development. This dissertation brings together literatures on nation-building, group identification, the politics of development, and security studies. My findings disrupt long-held views in the scholarship on African politics that borders and national identities are weak. They also challenge the conventional wisdom that refugees spread instability. Finally, compared to conventional state-led nation-building efforts, this research spotlights the role of migration as an alternative pathway to national identity formation and development, with implications for humanitarian policy.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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