From macro-economy to political economy: situating the refugee development discourse at the large scale
Professor Roger Zetter (Refugee Studies Centre)
Public Seminar Series
Wednesday, 02 December 2015, 5pm to 6.30pm
Seminar Room 1, Oxford Department of International Development, 3 Mansfield Road, OX1 3TB
Hosted by Refugee Studies Centre
RSC Public Seminar Series, Michaelmas Term: Refugee Economies
Conveners: Alexander Betts and Naohiko Omata
In recent academic and policy arenas in forced migration, the issue of how to understand refugees’ economic lives has emerged as one of the most pressing agendas. This seminar series will therefore gather leading scholars who have been working on related issues in order to consolidate the empirical and theoretical knowledge of refugee economies. Speakers will be convened from diverse and inter-disciplinary backgrounds from anthropology, economics, and political science. In addition to knowledge building, this seminar series is intended to initiate nurturing wider networks of researchers working on economic lives of refugees and to establish a common space for exchanging ideas, discussing findings and challenges.
On this week's seminar:
This exploratory paper challenges the academic, policy making and operational dominance given to the micro-economic analysis of refugees’ lives – income generation, livelihoods, the household economy, entrepreneurship.
Providing the context for this paper, the reframing of humanitarian crises as a development challenge highlights the significance of the macro-economic features of refugee crises which have largely been disregarded to date.
Reflecting on my recent research for the World Bank, the EC, the UNDP, and the Solutions Alliance, the paper considers how macro-economic analysis offers significant insights into the concept of the ‘refugee burden’, the developmental costs and impacts of forced displacement and policy options to address them.
However, the developmental challenges and opportunities presented by large scale forced displacement also bear on the wider political interests of host countries, donors and development actors. Using political economy analysis, the paper explores the countervailing interests of host countries and external actors in engaging with development ‘solutions’ to refugee crises - resistance to sustainable development policies that reinforce protracted displacement in host countries versus co-optation of refugees into the neo-liberal market economies of donor states.
About the speaker
Roger Zetter is Emeritus Professor of Refugee Studies, retiring as the fourth Director of the Refugee Studies Centre in September 2011. His long association with the RSC commenced in 1988 as Founding Editor of the Journal of Refugee Studies, published by Oxford University Press, a position held until 2001.
Following degrees from Cambridge and Nottingham Universities he completed his DPhil at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex; this research on the Greek–Cypriot Refugees from 1974 was the foundation for a career-long engagement with questions of institutional and bureaucratic power and the labelling of refugees. His 1991 paper ‘Labelling refugees: forming and transforming a bureaucratic identity’ in the Journal of Refugee Studies is one of the most widely cited papers in the field of refugee studies. For the centenary of Oxford University Press Journals, the paper was selected as one of the 100 most influential papers published over the previous century.