Narrators, Navigators and Negotiators: Foreign Service Officer Life Stories from Canada's Africa Refugee Resettlement Program, 1970 to 1990

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Creator: 

Chironda, Andriata

Date: 

2020

Abstract: 

This dissertation critically examines the life stories of three Canadian Foreign Service officers, in order to tell a history about how officers "heard" and decided on the claims of refugee applicants who sought admission and resettlement to Canada through its Africa Refugee Program from the early 1970s to 1990. This focus allows the study to explore the relationship between officers' individual agency and structure in the implementation of Canadian refugee policy, and to present a hitherto under-represented part of Canada's immigration history. The research argues that the context and conditions of refugee selection can be more fully understood by explaining: the material and ideational structures within which the officers (hearers) navigated; the many types of relationships they negotiated; and the narratives they created, both about themselves and about their role in refugee selection. This work conceptualizes the officers as "narrators" (past and present), "navigators" and "negotiators." The dissertation is situated within the literature on oral history, immigration to Canada, and the interdisciplinary study of the management of migration and refugee movements. It draws on substantive oral history interviews the author conducted with the three officers. In order to situate these life stories within the prevailing state structures of the time, the research draws on primary sources, including Government of Canada policy documents, the 1976 Immigration Act, Annual Reports to Parliament on Immigration Levels Plans and Ministry of Employment and Immigration Statistics. This work argues that, notwithstanding limitations on their autonomy, the degree and nature of discretion and agency that officers exercised varied depending on the local context of implementation and the particularities of the refugee applicant or situation. Together, the life stories reflect a collective narrative about the settings, conditions, constraints and interests that shaped how the officers "heard" refugee applicant stories while they implemented Canada's humanitarian and resettlement policy through the Africa Refugee Program, in its earliest and formative years. Collectively, the life stories put a human face on complex bureaucratic processes, and demonstrate that individual agency matters and affectS outcomes in policy implementation.  

Subject: 

Canadian History
International Law and Relations
African History

Language: 

English

Publisher: 

Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Doctor of Philosophy: 
Ph.D.

Thesis Degree Level: 

Doctoral

Thesis Degree Discipline: 

History

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

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