"In February 2019, African leaders gathered in Addis Ababa for the 32nd AU Summit, where the year was declared to be dedicated to ‘Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons’ on the continent. But political decisions need to be implemented by individual member states, and the political dimension of how individual African states (and with whom) deal with migration in their own contexts is still largely a black box, despite the political attention (African) migration has received in recent times.
Empirically, this project seeks to address this research gap, by considering the political stakes and societal discourse related to migration governance in (and across) four cases in Sub-Saharan Africa, namely South Sudan, Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Africa. This variation allows for a comparisons of hosts and sending nations, different types of conflict as well as regional differences. People are on the move in different ways, and only by considering the way refugees and other migrants are dealt with together, can we understand how different forms of migration may become politically instrumentalized or played off against each other. For this reason, this project considers displacement amongst other forms of migration (e.g. regular and irregular emigration and immigration).
Theoretically, the research will endeavour to bridge migration studies with conflict studies. In particular peacebuilding debates adds to our understanding of the political dimension of migration for several reasons. First, like for peacebuilding, migration governance builds on a complex interaction of actors that also highlights the political agency of non-governmental ones. Second, we can use the idea of intervention – both external and internal – as a heuristic tool to further differentiate about the varying political impact that different levels of migration governance can have. Building on this, the project seeks to further consider the different types of stakeholders (including both governmental and non-governmental ones) involved in developing migration governance polices, their role and type of influence. Thus, the project differentiates applies a multi-scalar perspective, differentiating between multiple types of agency (external/internal) and actors (governmental/non-governmental).
Methodologically, the research is qualitative, and involves a mixture of both desk research (South Sudan, Zimbabwe) and field work (Uganda, South Africa), including interviews and focus groups. In order to allow for participatory research and reduce inequalities in knowledge production, the research will be conducted in close cooperation with African researchers."