Scholarly work on migration to Europe and North America asserts that states adopt liberal migration policies when migrants are able to mobilise and when they are assisted by state and non-state institutions. To what extent does this explanation for mobilisation transfer to the Global South where authoritarian state structures might be in place, thereby constraining certain political behaviours? This paper examines why migrants and refugees have been able to mobilise to a greater extent in Morocco than in Egypt. Drawing primarily on original data from semi-structured interviews, this paper assesses the formal and informal rules that constrain or permit certain political behaviours among non-national populations in each host state. I find that the Moroccan system has been more responsive than the Egyptian state to migrant and refugee mobilisation due primarily to the type of authoritarian governance in place. While both Egypt and Morocco seek to retain control overt opposition, the Moroccan regime since the 1990s has allowed for a degree of openness, permitting visible forms of resistance and ultimately co-opting critics, whereas Egypt – especially since 2013 – has sought to violently eliminate any form of contestation and since 2014 has also sought to limit any associational activities related to human rights promotion. The findings address the question of whether extant explanations for migrant mobilisation and subsequent policy reform travel to the Global South, and also contribute to understandings of whether and how the political mobilisation of migrants and refugees can take place in non-democratic spaces and to what effect.
Read the full article in The Journal of North African Studies.