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What power relations, interests, and ideas shape the socio-economic entitlements and opportunities that are available to refugees?

Being able to answer this question matters for policy-makers. If we know which key gatekeepers and veto players are shaping agenda-setting, negotiation, and implementation of policy choices, we in turn have the means to influence outcomes.

Refugee politics, however, is not deterministically shaped by what happens in capital cities. Looking at politics in Nairobi, Ankara, or Bangkok will only tell you so much about the politics of host states. Although increasingly urban, refugee-hosting often takes place in geographically remote areas, close to international borders. Consequently, it frequently implicates a range of sub-national actors and structures. Refugee politics is ‘local’ politics; regional, district, and municipal authorities are often key actors. Understanding that politics also relies upon looking critically at the role played by a range of outside actors, including businesses, donors, and diasporic networks.

Our research in this area divides into two strands: work in the Middle East focusing on the local politics of the Syrian refugee crisis (funded by the Swiss FDFA) and work in East Africa focusing on the political economy of socio-economic rights (funded by the British Academy).