The Program on Refugees, Forced Displacement, and Humanitarian Responses Seminar presents
Yang-Yang Zhou, University of British Columbia, Political Science Department and Harvard Academy Scholar:
“Rejecting Coethnicity: the Politics of Migrant Exclusion by Minoritized Citizens.”
How are migrants received by host countries and communities? A substantial body of scholarship on migrant reception focuses almost exclusively on majority White citizens in the Global North and their (negative) attitudes towards migrants from the Global South. The presumption of these studies is that citizens who share ethnic and racial ties with migrants – people Professor Zhou terms ‘coethnics’ – will accept newcomers with warmth, or at least without conflict. Her book project challenges this presumption by identifying and explaining cases of migrant rejection by coethnic hosts. She argues that when host states segregate and stigmatize migrants as dangerous, then coethnic citizens, who are often minoritized and marginalized within their own country, will seek to distance themselves. They can emphasize their national identity, deny shared connections, and support anti-migrant policies. Using a multi-method approach, her study draws on original interviews and focus groups, surveys (with over 5,000 respondents), and georeferenced data on refugees and host communities spanning several Global South contexts, but with a focus on East Africa. The findings have implications for how we think about the politics of intergroup relations, the contextual nature of identity, and the spillover effects of discriminatory migration policies.
Yang-Yang Zhou is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She studies national identity, conflict, and development in the context of migration, particularly within the Global South. She’s currently on leave from UBC as a Harvard Academy Scholar and a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar.
A central focus of Professor Zhou research is to bring evidence to questions, and often misperceptions, within scholarly and public debates about the effects of migrants on host communities. For example, she looks at local development and public goods provision, conflict, and voting behavior with the settlement of refugees and other migrants. She studies inclusion or “othering” by minoritized citizens who share ethnic and cultural ties with migrants. And she researches if different types of interventions, like prolonged intergroup contact between locals and migrants, reduce tensions in contexts marked by anti-migrant prejudice and discrimination. These projects span multiple countries in East Africa (Tanzania and Kenya), South Asia (Pakistan and Afghanistan), North and South America (US, Venezuela and Colombia), and they receive funding from the National Science Foundation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the World Bank and UNHCR.