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Comparative Politics

B12 - Zooming In and Zooming Out – Migrants Between Transnational and Domestic Politics

Date: Jun 5 | Time: 02:00pm to 03:30pm | Location: SWING 406

Chair/Président/Présidente : Phil Triadafilopoulos (University of Toronto)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Heather Millar (University of Toronto)

Session Abstract: Migrants are marginalized actors who are often misunderstood with regard to their identity, belonging and integration by powerful actors such as governments, states, or the media. Furthermore, the political processes through which migrants are categorized, decisions about them are made, and the limits of their political participation are set, continue to be defined by, and explored through the perspectives of powerful actors and institutions. Instead of reiterating this dominant approach, this panel focuses on actors on the ground, and employs methods of inquiry which will help to unpack various hidden processes and discourses that affect the way we understand issues of immigration and transnationalism.

Meddling from Afar? The Case of Turkey’s Diaspora Activism from Abroad: Gözde Böcü (University of Toronto)
Abstract: Migrant populations living in diasporas around the world have become increasingly engaged in political processes in their states of origin, and actively partake in national elections (Paarlberg, 2017), referenda (Koinova, 2010), or constitution making (Dalmasso, 2018) from abroad. Since diaspora actors play a significant role for political outcomes in their states of origin (Burgess, 2012; Caramani & Grotz, 2015; Gamlen, 2008) - an often puzzling phenomenon for states of residence - there is a growing need to understand such transnational diaspora involvement. Although state-centred accounts on diaspora involvement and governance are receiving growing attention in the field (To, 2014; Tsourpas, 2015; Kosmarskaya, 2011; Lewis, 2015), our knowledge about processes on the ground remain limited. Therefore, in this study, I explore the case of Turkey’s diaspora residing in Germany, and draw upon ethnographic and interview material collected during Turkey’s constitutional referendum in 2017 and national elections in 2015 as diaspora actors mobilized in Germany. I show how, and why diaspora actors mobilized towards political issues in their home countries, and provide insights into the motivations driving their political activism and the strategies they employed from abroad.

An Analysis of Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Canada Through Examining Sponsorship: Busra Hacioglu (University of Toronto)
Abstract: Contemporary flows of Syrian migration are marked by heightened concerns around state security and ‘integration anxieties’ caused by faulty notions of the ‘other’ (Ley, 2013; Banting & Soroka, 2012; McCoy et al., 2016). In such a context, many Western countries have continued to stress the resettlement of ‘vulnerable refugees’ seen as worthy of such efforts, while trying to limit the access of perceivably ‘dangerous’ ones (See Szczepanik, 2016; Carpenter, 2005; Prins & Saharso, 2008). Such an approach is evident in Canada, where women and children, alongside families, have been prioritized, while ‘unaccompanied men’ have been suggested to pose a security risk (Turner, 2017 & 2016). This paper seeks to examine the extent to which such approaches have impacted the outcomes of resettlement in Canada. While government-led initiatives pose one avenue for resettlement, private sponsorship can be another site that exhibits and fosters such discourses, albeit one that is understudied (Macklin et al., 2018). The paper will use a discourse analysis of the media to study perceivable biases and perceptions around refugee men and women. Through conducting semi-structured interviews with private sponsors and examining data on refugee resettlement, the paper will seek to establish the strategies employed by actors in the face of such discourse. In doing so, it will examine the uptake of such ideas and policy goals, which can have important gendered implications.

The Socioeconomic and Ideological Roots of Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in the Middle East and North Africa: Amir Abdul Reda (University of Toronto), Nicholas A.R. Fraser (University of Toronto)
Abstract: What shapes public opinion toward economic migrants in the Middle East and North Africa region? In this paper, we look at the socioeconomic and ideological dynamics that affect attitudes toward economic migrants in the day to day life of ordinary people in the MENA region. We conduct a range of statistical models using 20,000+ observations from the Carnegie Middle East Governance and Islam Dataset (1988-2014) and the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees dataset on refugee populations around the world. We find that structural factors such as increased refugee populations, high levels of societal development, and accrued economic reliance on natural resource rents are all correlated with intolerant attitudes. Furthermore, our study shows that when key societal dynamics are controlled for, individuals who express affinity for Islamic monarchies, with higher socio-economic status, or have higher levels of political trust are more likely to be xenophobic. By contrast, those who express affinity for liberal democratic or arabist forms of government, are better educated, more trusting of others, or unemployed are more likely to be tolerant of foreigners.