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The Politics of 'Exit:' Emigration & Subject-Making Processes in Modern Egypt

Journal Articles
Gerasimos Tsourapas
Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies, Volume 4, No. 1, 29-49
Publication year: 2017
Abstract

How does emigration affect the politics of the country of origin? This paper argues that emigration is constitutive of subject-making processes within the sending state. Steering away from instrumentalist approaches that treat it as a prudential act, cross-border mobility is here examined as licensed political participation. By engaging in (or abstaining from) migration, citizens embed themselves deeper into specific social norms and practices as defined, discursively and substantively, by governmental policies. The act of migration, thus, allows citizens to infuse meaning into distinct social orders and engage in subject-making processes. The empirical case of modern Egypt demonstrates how such an approach can shed light upon the ways through which political structures are affected by emigration in non-democracies. In the divergent approaches to migration under President Nasser and, later, under Presidents Sadat and Mubarak, lie two different normative ‘constructions’ of the Egyptian subject: the frugal, self-sufficient Egyptian who rejects emigration under Nasser is contrasted with the self-interested, profit-seeking Egyptian subject-migrant under Sadat and Mubarak. By highlighting this opposition through the framework of cross-border mobility, this paper seeks to shed light into the multiple resonances that migration has as a subject-making process, and enhance our understanding of the politics of emigration under non-democratic regimes.

Nasser’s Educators and Agitators across al-Watan al-‘Arabi: Tracing the Foreign Policy Importance of Egyptian Regional Migration, 1952 - 1967

Journal Articles
Gerasimos Tsourapas
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Volume 43, Issue 3, Pages 324 - 341
Publication year: 2016
Abstract

The Egyptian state’s policy of dispatching trained Egyptian professionals, primarily educational staff, across the Arab world rarely features in analyses of Egypt’s foreign policy under Gamal Abdel Nasser. This article relies primarily on newly declassified material from the British Foreign Office archives, unpublished reports from the Egyptian Ministry of Education, and an analysis of related articles in three main Egyptian newspapers (al-Ahram, al-Akhbar, al-Jumhuriya) in order to provide a detailed reconstruction of regional migration’s importance for Egyptian foreign policy. It debunks the conventional wisdom that Egyptian migration became a socio-political issue only in the post-1973 era, arguing that the Nasserite regime developed a governmental policy that allowed, and encouraged, Egyptians’ political activism in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and the Persian Gulf according to state foreign policy priorities in the 1952-1967 period. By presenting a cache of archival material in analytical and critical context, this article offers concrete evidence of how migration buttressed Egypt’s regional ambitions under Gamal Abdel Nasser.

The Politics of Egyptian Migration to Libya

Online Pieces
Gerasimos Tsourapas
Middle East Report and Information Project
Publication year: 2015

Why Do States Develop Multi-tier Emigrant Policies? Evidence from Egypt

Journal Articles
Gerasimos Tsourapas
Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Volume 41, Issue 13, Pages 2192 - 2214
Publication year: 2015
Abstract

Why do states vary their policies towards their citizens abroad, and why are some emigrant groups treated preferentially to others? The literature on the politics of international migration has yet to explore this as a separate field of inquiry, assuming that states adopt a single policy that encourages, sustains or prevents emigration abroad. Yet, in the case of Egypt, the state developed a multi-tiered policy that distinctly favoured specific communities abroad over others. I hypothesise that policy differentiation is based upon the perceived utility of the emigrant group remaining abroad versus the utility of its return. This utility is determined by two factors: the sending state’s domestic political economy priorities and its foreign policy objectives.

Notes from the Field: Researching Emigration in post-2011 Egypt

Other Publications
Gerasimos Tsourapas
American Political Science Association Migration & Citizenship Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 2, Pages 58 – 62.
Publication year: 2014

The Other Side of a Neoliberal Miracle: Economic Reform and Political De-Liberalization in Ben Ali's Tunisia

Journal Articles
Gerasimos Tsourapas
Mediterranean Politics, Volume 18, Issue 1, Pages 23 - 41
Publication year: 2013
Abstract

Employing a Gramscian framework this analysis argues that economic liberalization in Tunisia under Zine El Abidine Ben Ali allowed for a deeper penetration of state power into society, introducing novel modes of control during a climate of economic uncertainty which, labelled an ‘economic miracle’, was to be defended at all costs. It examines two institutions central to the reform process – the Tunisian Solidarity Bank and the National Solidary Fund – making the argument that, by associating the ‘miracle’ discourse with a variety of pre-existing narratives, the regime ensured compliance, invalidated dissent and prolonged its repressive grip on power.

The Limits of Norm Promotion: The EU in Egypt and Israel/Palestine

Journal Articles
Elena Lazarou, Maria Gianniou, and Gerasimos Tsourapas
Insight Turkey, Vol. 15, No. 2, Pages 171 - 193
Publication year: 2013
Abstract

Policy implications aside, assessing the EU’s involvement in the Mediterranean region necessitates a reconsideration of the impact and limits of the so-called ‘normative power’ upon which its approach has been based, implicitly or explicitly. This paper does so by examining the EU’s engagement with Egypt and the Israel-Palestine conflict; it sets out to challenge the notion that EU-style normative power alone is well-suited to promote democracy and regional cooperation, particularly in regions with diverging dynamics where the promotion of EU-associated norms may stumble upon European trade- and diplomacy-related interests. In this sense, it aims to enrich and inform the debates on ‘normative power Europe’ and Euro-Mediterranean relations.