"Migration within Africa and Beyond"

Tuesday, October 9, 2018
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM (ET)
CHS CHS 104 Chase Auditorium
Event Type
Susan Penn
Distinguished Visitors-Political Science

Distinguished Visitor Beth Elise Whitaker, associate professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

As immigration attracts attention around the globe, headlines have focused on the movement of people from developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to wealthier countries in Europe and North America. But more than half of international migrants from the Global South live in other developing countries. Within Africa specifically, two-thirds of migrants move to other countries in the region. In recent years, anti-immigrant hostility has increased in many African countries and governments have adopted more restrictive policies. This presentation will explore recent trends in African migration and examine how governments and people within the region have responded. Evidence from Africa challenges conventional wisdom on the distinction between refugees and migrants, the role of economic development in discouraging migration, and the extent to which cultural similarities protect migrants from discrimination. In the end, more attention should be given to the politicization of the immigration issue by elites in their quest for power, a pattern that is not limited to the African context.

Dr. Whitaker's research examines migration and security issues in Africa. With a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, she and several colleagues have built a dataset of rebel groups’ illicit funding sources (particularly natural resources and crime) and are exploring how different funding strategies influence conflict dynamics. As a Fulbright Scholar in Kenya, she conducted research on U.S.-African counter-terrorism cooperation. She also has done extensive research on the politics of immigration in Africa, including the rise of anti-foreigner attitudes, comparative refugee policy, and the political engagement of diaspora communities. She has done fieldwork in Kenya (2005-2006, 2015, 2016), Tanzania (1996-1998, 2003), and Botswana (2005). From 2010 to 2012, she served as chair of the African Politics Conference Group, a network of political scientists who study Africa. She worked previously at the Brookings Institution and the American Council on Education and has been a consultant for the U.S. Department of State, the Social Science Research Council, the United Nations Foundation, and Save the Children Fund. Her articles appear in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, African Studies Review, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, International Migration Review, International Affairs, Third World Quarterly, and Journal of Refugee Studies, among others. She received her Ph.D. in 1999 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  (Bio, https://pages.uncc.edu/beth-whitaker/).

Tea at 4:15 p.m. 

Sponsored by the Department of Political Science in conjunction with the Distinguished Visitors Program. 


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