Rejecting Coethnicity: the Politics of Migrant Exclusion by Minoritized Citizens by Yang-Yang Zhou

“How does the presence of large migrant communities affect processes of national identity formation for nearby host citizens? If these host citizens share ethnic and cultural ties with the migrants, are they more accepting and inclusive of migrants, or do they seek to differentiate themselves by excluding or “”othering”” the migrants? Tackling these questions is critical, especially in light of the current displacement crisis. According to the UNHCR, there are now almost 80 million people forcibly displaced from their homes. Within the past decade, hosting migrants has become one of the most politically contentious issues throughout Europe and the U.S., which is reflected in the growing wave of scholarship on forced migration in these regions. Yet the vast majority of migrants fleeing crises, more than 85%, remain in the Global South, almost always in the border regions of a neighboring country. Unlike OECD countries, in these contexts, migrants are almost always located in the border regions of neighboring host countries, where they share cultural and ethnic ties with citizen groups living these areas. These citizen groups are also often considered ethnic minorities within their countries. We have much to learn about refugee-hosting dynamics in developing country contexts, which my research seeks to address.

My book project explores how the presence of refugees and other types of migrants affects the social and political identities and behaviors of nearby, often coethnic, citizens. Immigration scholars might predict that due to these coethnic ties, there would be less discrimination against and greater inclusion of migrants. Additionally, scholars of ethnic politics might expect these nearby citizen groups to feel greater ethnic as opposed to national identification, particularly since they are often marginalized by the state themselves. However, I theorize that the refugee hosting policies of the state and subsequently how the state and elites portray refugees will shape how nearby coethnic citizen groups will react.

This project has received funding from SSHRC and NSF. ”