Refugees and the state in Africa

Hanno Brankamp (University of Oxford)
Claire Walkey (University of Oxford)
Politics and International Relations
Appleton Tower, Seminar Room 2.12
Session slots:
Wednesday 12 June, 14:15 - 16:00
Wednesday 12 June, 16:15 - 18:00

Short abstract:

African states have an intricate relationship with processes of asylum and displacement. This panel seeks to disentangle the multiple forms and scales of state engagement in managing refugees in Africa, from 'street-level bureaucracies' to national policies.

Long abstract:

Africa's postcolonial states have a double-edged relationship with processes of displacement - playing a key role in the management of refugee affairs or becoming themselves a driving force in displacing populations. States are therefore central in shaping the experiences of displacement, the impact of refugees on receiving societies, and the forms that displacement takes. The last two decades have seen African states take a more active role in refugee affairs, taking over responsibilities from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) that was long seen as a 'surrogate state' (Slaughter and Crisp 2009) on the continent. Notions of political (un)willingness, capacity and compliance with (inter)national law, however, continue to frame states' engagements in managing displacement. Moreover, frequently conflicting norms, such as national security and refugee rights, create contested and complex areas of engagement. This panel seeks to disentangle these phenomena through taking a closer look at how African states are involved in refugee affairs. We are interested in the multiple and interrelated scales of African state involvement, from 'street-level' bureaucracies (Lipsky 1980) to national policies. We invite papers addressing (but not limited to) the following themes: • Explorations of contemporary and historical politics of refuge and asylum in Africa • Different forms of African state engagement, including bureaucracies, the law, policing and community participation • The role of norms and interests in shaping policy, the law and everyday state practice • The impact of external relations, including international agencies, intergovernmental organisations, non-state actors and displaced persons, shape state policy and practice