Refugees and the state in Kenya : the politics of identity, rights and displacement
The thesis provides an empirical basis for understanding state behaviour towards refugees by focusing on refugees in Kakuma Camp, Kenya. It compares and contrasts the experiences of encamped refugees with the experiences of Kenyans outside the camp, stressing the need to understand the socio-political context within which displacement and protection occurs. The study describes the processes of state formation in Kenya and the evolution of particular understandings of citizenship and membership. It argues that the state in Africa has, inherent within its foundations, exclusionary and discriminatory practices, which affect both citizens and noncitizens. These result in multiple sites of inclusion and exclusion based on membership of a variety of shifting groups, categories and networks. This observation suggests the need to re-evaluate our understanding of the dominant analytical concepts of 'state' as 'protector' and 'citizen' as 'insider' thus far used to address the issue of entitlement to rights, around which the refugee regime has been constructed. The thesis also underscores the importance of breaking out of the 'territorial trap', calling attention to the growing importance of international and transnational actors in defining the actions of the state and the direction of domestic policy. It points out that as refugees are progressively excluded from the realm of the nation-state, they increasingly turn to the international community, represented by international humanitarian actors, for recognition. This contributes to the marginalisation of the state in the management of refugee affairs, which has a negative impact both on the protection of refugee rights and the credibility of the state in the eyes of its citizens. In response to this development, the thesis questions the legitimacy and accountability of international humanitarian actors and emphasises the importance of bringing the state back into the centre of the refugee protection regime.