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Governance Uncovered: Local Politics and Development

Between Borders: Refugee Return Dynamics and Integration Realities

Season 1, Ep. 49


In this episode of Governance Uncovered, we focus on refugee migration and integration as we're approaching World Refugee Day, which falls each year on the 20th of June. World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to acknowledge the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. 

Joining us today is Daniel Masterson, from the University of California, who will talk about his recently published paper in the British Journal of Political Science: Dynamics of Refugee Return: Syrian Refugees and their Migrant Intention. In this paper, Daniel and his co-authors, Ala Alrababah, Marine Casalis, Dominik Hangartner, and Jeremy Weinstein, look at what makes Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon decide to return home. 

Then, we'll hear from Isabell Schierenbeck and Andrea Spehar from the University of Gothenburg. They have looked at street-level bureaucrats in and Syrian refugee interactions in Sweden, Jordan, and Turkey. They have a book in Swedish publish on this work, called Migration i välfärdsstaten: att implementera integrationspolitik, (English translation: Migration in the Welfare State: To Implement Integration Politics).

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  • 52. Controlling Territory, Controlling Voters: Book Interview with Michael Wahman

    EPISODE TRANSCRIPTIn today's episode, we are joined by Michael Wahman, Associate Professor at Michigan State University's Department of Political Science.Host Ellen Lust and Michael discuss his book Controlling Territory, Controlling Voters, recently published by Oxford University Press. Michael's research leading up to this book, which spanned seven years, delves into the complex topic of electoral violence in Zambia and Malawi.The interview delves into the concept of electoral violence, examining its manifestations and its broader impact on the electoral process. Michael's research highlights the significance of low-scale violence and the fear it instills among voters, especially women.Furthermore, the interview explores the concept of geographically polarized electoral systems, a critical framework for understanding when and why electoral violence occurs. Michael explains how competition over territory, rather than individual voters, becomes a focal point in these systems, making election violence a tool for controlling space and shaping electoral outcomes.Michael also provides some practical implications of his work, emphasizing the importance of taking low-scale violence seriously, working with domestic election observers, and finding local solutions to de-escalate election violence.Don't forget to like, share, and subscribe if you liked the episode! And drop us a note on what you would like to hear next. We always like to hear from you!Reference: Wahman, Michael. (2023). Controlling Territory, Controlling Voters: The Electoral Geography of African Campaign Violence. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780198872825
  • 51. Understanding Ceasefires: A Conversation with Marika Sosnowski

    EPISODE TRANSCRIPTIONThis podcast is supported by the Swedish Research Council. In this episode, we're joined by Marika Sosnowski, a postdoctoral research fellow at Melbourne Law School. Marika and host Ellen Lust discuss Marika's new book Redefining Ceasefires: Wartime Order and State Building in Syria. The book challenges traditional notions of ceasefires and examines their effects on governance beyond just halting violence. Marika emphasizes the complexity of ceasefires in Syria, particularly in the context of local governance. She discusses the case of the 2016 nationwide ceasefire and how it affected governance dynamics in different areas in Syria. She mentions that while violence decreased overall, targeted assassinations of key governance figures increased, leading to unexpected consequences for local governance efforts. The conversation also explores the disconnect between international perspectives on ceasefires and the perspectives of those living in conflict zones. Marika suggests that a human-centered view of ceasefires, focused on the needs and goals of those directly affected, could yield different outcomes. Overall, the interview sheds light on the multifaceted nature of ceasefires, their impact on governance, and the importance of considering local perspectives and needs when analyzing their effects.Mentioned work: Sosnowski, Marika. (2023). Redefining Ceasefires: Wartime Order and Statebuilding in Syria. Cambridge University Press.Sosnowski, Marika. (2023). "Fear and Violence, Loyalty and Treason: Settlement of Status in Syria." International Studies Quarterly.
  • 50. Global Value Chains, Multiculturalism, and Civil Service Exams: Insights for Societal Progress

    EPISODE TRANSCRIPT In this episode, Oliver Harman, Cities Economist for the International Growth Centre's Cities that Work initiative based at Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, and Riccardo Crescenzi, Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics and Political Science, will be discussing their book "Harnessing Global Value Chains for Regional Development: How to Upgrade through Regional Policy, FDI, and Trade." They highlight the significance of considering global value chains at the regional level and the importance of coordination between different levels of government for effective policy implementation.Next, we're joined by Rebecca Grace Tan, a Lecturer at the National University of Singapore, who delves into her research on Singaporean politics, migration, citizenship, multiculturalism, and nationalism. She explores how the Singaporean state navigates the challenge of cultural pluralism while cultivating a common national identity, particularly through their framework of multiracialism.Selected Work: "Renegotiating Multiracialism: the grassroots integration of new migrants’ ethnic identities in Singapore," Asian Ethnicity. "Defanging Public Discontent in an Authoritarian Regime: Grassroots Volunteering and Immigration in Singapore," Commonwealth and Comparative Politics.Our final guest is Nick Kuipers, an assistant professor of political science at the National University of Singapore. Nick discusses his study on civil service exams and their impact on representation in municipalities, as well as individuals' attitudes. He uncovers the unintended consequences of high-stakes exams, which exacerbate the representation gap between privileged and underprivileged groups. Nick also sheds light on how passing or failing these exams affects individuals' satisfaction, social cohesion, and national identification.Selected Work: Forthcoming. "City Size and Public Service Access: Evidence From Brazil and Indonesia" (with A. Post). Perspectives on Politics.Forthcoming. "Failing The Test: The Countervailing Attitudinal Effects of Civil Service Examinations," American Political Science Review.This podcast is produced by the Governance and Local Development Institute, University of Gothenburg, and supported by the Swedish Research Council.
  • 48. Breaking Barriers: Women's Political Participation and Activism in China, Iran, and Egypt.

    EPISODE TRANSCRIPTIn this episode, we'll focus on gender activism and women's political participation in three different countries. First, we'll talk to Minglu Chen about the current state of women's representation in politics in China; where some progress has been made in recent years, but Minglu now fears that the country is taking a step back. Minglu has extensively written on women's representation in China, and we are excited to have her share her insights with us.Then, we'll hear Shirin Saeidi and Nermin Allam on how gender activism takes place in Iran and Egypt, how it has evolved during the past decade, and what progress has been made. They'll talk about how the September 2022 protests in Iran and the Egypt 2011 uprisings have affected how women engage in activism and are recognized by society. GuestsMinglu Chen, Senior Lecturer in Government and International Relations, and a Member of the China Center at the University of Sydney.Mentioned research: “Innocent Young Girls": The Search for Female Provincial Leaders in China.Shirin Saeidi, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Arkansas and Director of the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies.Mentioned research: Women and the Islamic Republic: How Gendered Citizenship Conditions the Iranian State, Cambridge University Press 2022. Nermin Allam, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University-Newark.Mentioned research: Women and the Egyptian Revolution: Engagement and Activism during the 2011 Arab Uprisings, Cambridge University Press 2017.
  • 47. A conversation with Prince Guma, Astrid Haas, and Patience Mususa on urban Africa

    EPISODE TRANSCRIPT It’s a mashup! GLD's Jeffrey Paller join up with the Ufahamu Africa podcast to talk to Prince Guma, Astrid Haas, and Patience Mususa. Each is an expert on the urbanization of the continent. The episode responds to Jeffrey’s recent article in This Week in Africa, “Five Trends that will Shape Urban Africa in 2023,” which highlights:Innovative forms of affordable housingGentrifying neighbourhoodsHeightened focus on emerging citiesConfronting floodingThe impact of big techPrince Guma is a researcher of cities, infrastructures and technologies in eastern Africa. Astrid Haas is an independent urban economist supporting cities and has worked extensively with city governments across Africa, the Middle East and Asia. And Patience Mususa is senior researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala.Books, Links, & ArticlesYoung Feminists Network (YFN)“Five Trends that will Shape Urban Africa in 2023.” by Jeffrey PallerPolitics and the Urban Frontier: Transformation and Divergence in Late Urbanizing East Africa by Tom GoodfellowGizo-Gizo!: A Tale from the Zongo Lagoon by Emily WilliamsonSeeing Like a City by Ash Amin and Nigel ThriftDisrupted Urbanism: Situated Smart Initiatives in African Cities by Nancy OdendaalFragments of the City: Making and Remaking Urban Worlds by Colin McFarlaneRethinking Smart Urbanism: City-Making and the Spread of Digital Infrastructures in Nairobi by Prince Karakire Gura
  • 46. Navigating Crises: Understanding the Impact and Road to Recovery

    EPISODE TRANSCRIPTIn times of crisis, societies are forced to confront difficult challenges and make tough decisions. This episode delves into the complexities of crises, exploring different aspects of how they impact societies and the ways in which communities can recover and rebuild. Our first guest, Will Todman, discusses his research on how energy infrastructure is affected during conflicts. Next, we hear from Professor Rabia Polat, who shares her findings on Turkish local authorities' reception of Syrian refugees. The episode also includes a discussion on the recent earthquake in Turkey and the crisis response efforts that followed. Finally, Mohamad Alashmar brings a Syrian perspective to the table, discussing the impact of the earthquake on already fragile areas in Syria and exploring local initiatives and international aid. Together, these interviews and discussions provide a comprehensive look at crises and the complex road to recovery.GuestsWill Todman, fellow in the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.The mentioned report: Powering Recovery: Reform, Reconstruction, and Renewables in Conflict-Affected States in the Arab WorldThe mentioned project: Powering Recovery in the Middle EastRabia Polat, professor at Isik University in Instanbul, Department of International Relations.The mentioned research:Polat, R. K., & Lowndes, V. (2021). How does multi-level governance create capacity to address refugee needs, and with what limitations? An analysis of municipal responses to Syrian refugees in Istanbul. Journal of Refugee Studies, 35(1), 51–73., V., & Polat, R. K. (2020). How do local actors interpret, enact and contest policy? An analysis of local government responses to meeting the needs of Syrian refugees in Turkey. Local Government Studies, 48(3), 546–569. Al-Ashmar, Ph.D. student and research fellow at the center for Syrian studies at the University of St Andrews, School of International relations.Mohamad is also a part of MERNID, the Middle East Research Network on Internal Displacement and SARN-UK, Syrian Academics and Researchers Network - UK.
  • 45. Political Turmoil in Tunisia, The Political Legacy of the 2022 World Cup, and the Effect of Economic Shock on Male Marriage in the West Bank.

    EPISODE TRANSCRIPT We'll start by covering the political crisis in Tunisia since president Saeid seized absolute power in 2021. Mohammed Dhia Hammami, PhD student in Political Science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, joined GLD's founding director Ellen Lust to discuss the low voter turnout after the first round of Tunisia's parliamentary elections in December 2022, as well as the country's high unemployment rates, and the general disappointment in president Saeid among Tunisians. Disclaimer: This episode was recorded on January 23, before the second round of parliamentary runoffs on January 29. When recording this, it's been about six weeks since the FIFA World Cup in Qatar ended. But what impact did the tournament have on domestic politics and its influence beyond Qatar? GLD colleague and football fan Thabit Jacob met with Dr Danyel Reicheto to discuss the politics of sports focusing on last year's world cup in Qatar. Danyel is a Visiting Associate Professor at Georgetown University in Qatar. He has co-edited two books which came out recently, the first is Qatar and the 2022 FIFA World Cup: Politics, Controversy, Change, and the second is the Handbook of Sport in the Middle East.  "The Effects of a Negative Economic Shock on Male Marriage in the West Bank" - is the title of Ayhab Saad's recent paper that we'll cover as our last segment for this episode. Ayhab is an associate professor of Economics at Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. In this paper, which is co-authored with Amr Ragab, marriage rates among young men in the West Bank are compared before and after the sudden closure of the Israeli labour market for Palestinian male commuters from the West Bank in 2001. Ellen Lust met with Ayhab to talk about how the economic shock following the border closure has affected the decision to get married for both men and women and also, how social norms play a part in the declining marriage rates.  
  • Youth Engagement in the MENA and Politics of Peacebuilding in Lebanese Municipalities

    This episode covers political participation and activism among youth, focusing on local perspectives from Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Iraq. And also, an interview with Senior lecturer Hanna Leonardsson, whose book on local peacebuilding in Lebanon was recently published. This fall semester, GLD held its first policy roundtable in Arabic. The topic was youth engagement in the Middle East and North Africa. Luckily, for those who don't speak Arabic, Ghadeer Hussien summarised the most important takeaways from this roundtable. She spoke with Marwa Shalaby, Assistant Professor at the department of gender and women's studies and political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. And Dina Shehata, senior researcher and editor-in-chief of Al Malaf Al Masry (the Egypt File) at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. You can watch the recorded policy roundtable (in Arabic) here: is peace built at the local level? Hanna Leonardsson, Senior lecturer at the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, asks that question in her new book: Navigating the Local, Politics of Peacebuilding in Lebanese Municipalities. Ellen Lust met with Hanna to talk about this book of hers. You can find Hanna's book here: