Journal of International and Global Studies


Over the last few decades, many states in sub-Saharan Africa have adopted draconian anti-migrant policies, leaving refugees and migrants vulnerable to violence, harassment, and economic exploitation. These policies represent a shift from the relatively hospitable attitude shown by many African nations in the immediate post-colonial period. Explanations at the local level do not adequately explain the pervasiveness of these changes or why many developing states are now replicating the migration discourse and practices of the global north. Drawing on scholarship and data from a number of states in the region, including Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa, this paper argues that owing to the widespread implementation of neoliberal economic policies, these states are now subject to many of the same incentives and constraints that operate in the developed north. As a result, political parties and business elites have used national migration policy as an instrument for enhancing their political and economic positions. Insofar as neoliberal globalization continues to exacerbate inequality within the developing world, the harsh measures taken by governments of developing countries against their refugee and migrant populations are likely to increase. It is therefore important that scholars of migration and human rights begin to reassess the prevailing, nearly exclusive emphasis in many globalization studies on the dehumanizing policies and exploitation of southern migrants by states in the global north, as such an emphasis risks obscuring the emergence of more complex patterns of migration and anti-migrant practices in the developing world.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.