Discrimination and Delegation: Explaining State Responses to Refugees | Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture 2023
Dr Lamis E. Abdelaaty (Associate Professor of Political Science, Syracuse University)
Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture
Wednesday, 15 November 2023, 4pm to 5pm
Online via Zoom
Hosted by Refugee Studies Centre
About the lecture
What explains state responses to the refugees they receive? Discrimination and Delegation identifies two puzzling patterns: states open their borders to some refugee groups while blocking others (discrimination), and a number of countries have given the UN control of asylum procedures and refugee camps on their territory (delegation). To explain this selective exercise of sovereignty, the book develops a two-part theoretical framework in which policymakers in refugee-receiving countries weigh international and domestic concerns. Internationally, leaders use refugees in order to reassure allies and exert pressure on rivals. Domestically, policymakers have incentives to favor those refugee groups with whom they share an ethnic identity. When these international and domestic incentives conflict, shifting responsibility to the UN allows policymakers to placate both refugee-sending countries and domestic constituencies. The book then carries out a “three-stage, multi-level” research design in which each successive step corroborates and elaborates the findings of the preceding stage. The first stage involves statistical analysis of asylum admissions worldwide. The second stage presents two country case studies: Egypt (a country that is broadly representative of most refugee recipients) and Turkey (an outlier that has limited the geographic application of the Refugee Convention). The third stage zooms in on sub- or within-country dynamics in Kenya (home to one of the largest refugee populations in the world) through content analysis of parliamentary proceedings. Studying state responses to refugees is instructive because it can help explain why states sometimes assert, and at other times cede, their sovereignty in the face of refugee rights.
About the speaker
Her research deals with refugees in international relations. Her first book, Discrimination and Delegation: Explaining State Responses to Refugees (Oxford University Press, 2021), was awarded the Best Book Prize from the Migration and Citizenship section of the American Political Science Association, and the Distinguished Book Prize from the Ethnicity, Nationalism, & Migration Studies section of the International Studies Association. Previously, she received the Migration and Citizenship section’s Best Dissertation Award and was named an Emerging Diversity Scholar by the University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity.
Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, and the Gerda Henkel Foundation. Her articles have appeared in American Political Science Review, Annual Review of Sociology, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, and other journals. She has also written for general readers in The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage.
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