The nation outside the state: transnational exile in the African state system
Donors: Leverhulme Trust
Existing literature in Refugee Studies often understands exile and the experience of particular national or ethnic groups as refugees in apolitical or humanitarian terms. The rare exceptions to this have been conflict and security literature that has explored the connections between exile and transnational rebel groups.
Meanwhile, while literature in Diaspora Studies has explored relationships between diaspora and security, it has not systematically examined the role of political exile on a wider set of core questions relating to African politics and international relations.
The purpose of this project is to explore the role of exile within African politics. Taking a political science approach, it examines how exiled identity groups – based around particular ethnic or national communities – have been central to shaping the politics and international relations of Africa throughout the colonial, Cold War, and post-Cold War periods.
This project will examine the role of transnational exile in the politics and international relations of four African states — Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Liberia, and Eritrea — between 1945 and 2011; exploring transnational exile as an independent variable in relation to a number of dependent variables across the colonial, Cold War, and post-Cold War periods.
Each of these countries has had significant exiled populations, based partly upon identity-based divisions, throughout their colonial, Cold War and post-Cold War histories. In each case, exile appears to have played a role in shaping the politics and international relations of the states. Yet the questions remain: how and to what extent? What have been the causal mechanisms of influence? Have they been significant?
Drawing upon archival research, interviews, and a range of secondary literature sources, the project will use both qualitative and quantitative research methods to examine the ways in which transnational networks of African exiles have influenced the politics and international relations of the four states.
This project is part of the Oxford Diasporas Programme, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, which includes researchers from Oxford's three migration research centres and other departments across the University of Oxford in association with Wolfson College.
More information is available at the Oxford Diasporas Programme website.
Betts, A. and Jones, W. (2012) The transnational exile complex: how to think about African diaspora politics. Oxford: Refugee Studies Centre. Working Paper 88.