[Thesis] Maja Pedersen: “African Perspectives on Migration and Migration Management”

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While the question of migration is omnipresent in the news and in political discussions today, the predominant perspective in these discourses has been eurocentric. Few studies have taken on the perspective of African nations where the issues of migration is perhaps even more clearly present.

Maja Pedersen engages this problem in her master’s thesis African Perspectives on Migration and Migration Management which builds on Pedersen’s own research in Ethiopia. It was submitted for the MA program in International Studies at Aarhus University, Denmark in August 2016.

The thesis in its entirety can be accessed here.

Maja Pedersen currently lives in Copenhagen where she coordinates projects for Action Child Aid, an NGO focused on development in rural India. She has previously coordinated projects in other NGO’s, worked at Aarhus University’s International Centre, and at Denmark’s representation to the European Union, where she was involved with EU’s foreign-, security-, and development strategies in Africa. Maja Pedersen is a MA in International Studies and holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and European Studies both from Aarhus University.

Summary:

Migration has been referred to as the greatest global challenge of the 21st century. Yet, despite the transnational nature of contemporary international migration, the perspectives of northern migrant receiving countries have overwhelmingly driven political and academic debates on migration. Little is known about how policymakers and governments of sending countries perceive migration and the challenges and opportunities arising from it. In her thesis, Maja Pedersen redresses the balance by placing the perspectives, interests, and concerns of African policy actors at the center of analysis. In this pursuit, her thesis is based on a qualitative methodological approach comprised of six qualitative interviews with influential African policy actors, advisors and migration experts involved in the African migration agenda. Moreover, participation in the African Development Week as well as informal meetings with various stakeholders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, throughout a 2-month fieldwork mission has contributed to the knowledge and findings of this thesis.

Pedersen sets out to explore and understand African perspectives on migration and migration management, based on key themes identified: 1) how is the migration phenomenon perceived; 2) what is viewed as the challenges of managing migration in an African context; and 3) what are the African perspectives on migration relations with the EU and European states. Key findings show how demographic, ecological, geographic, political, and socio-cultural structures of Sub-Saharan Africa are crucial toward understanding underlying motivational forces behind African perspectives and policy considerations on international migration management. Moreover, Pedersen illustrates how population movement is perceived as part of a larger cultural, socio-economic and political reality in Africa and how the challenges of state-capacity, geophysical obstacles, as well as political dynamics is found to expand well beyond discussions on political will and determination toward managing migration. Pedersen concludes how Africa’s views on migration relations with the EU and European states revolve around feelings of mistrust, frustration, and skepticism. The overarching and persistent focus on a security-based logic of border protection and containment of irregular migration in Africa-Europe migration engagements, fuels the African doubts regarding the willingness of their European partners to fully commit to a genuine migration cooperation, which can address the longer-term challenges of Africa’s difficult experience; poverty, unemployment, conflict, and socio-economic insecurity.

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