Rethinking the Migration-Conflict Nexus: Insights from the Cocoa Regions in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana
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In recent years, International Relations scholars have begun to consider migration as an explanatory variable, recognizing its potential role in contributing to the outbreak of violent conflict. Despite the theoretical and empirical contributions resulting from this scholarship, the growing literature privileges a narrow category of migrants – involuntary migrants – failing to capture the role of the millions of voluntary migrants that might be part of the migration-conflict nexus. While some efforts have been made to explore the broader relationship between migration and security, this work focuses on developed countries, national security, and international migration. In short, this has led to the development of a new research agenda that bears little relevance to the African context (and other developing regions) where internal security and internal migration are much more prominent issues. This dissertation addresses these gaps by examining the migration-conflict nexus in the cocoa regions in two West African countries − Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. These countries are excellent candidates for comparative analysis as both have a great deal in common in terms of their natural resources, geographies, cultures and relations to the world market. These countries also provide fertile ground for comparison as although they share similar migration histories, there have been fundamentally different outcomes in terms of migration-producing conflict. Whereas there have been violent outbreaks of conflict targeting migrants in Côte d’Ivoire leading to a protracted civil war, instances of violent conflict in Ghana’s cocoa growing regions are rare. By analyzing and contrasting the different migration-conflict trajectories across these cases, the dissertation develops an empirically-informed model for explaining migration-conflict dynamics in Africa and beyond. While the findings highlight the need to take migration seriously as a security issue in its own right, they also reveal the critical role of the following intervening variables in influencing the diverging outcomes: differences in state-society relations; diverging land tenure regimes; variations in state capacity and exogenous shocks; and contrasting experiences with autochthony discourses. Notwithstanding the empirical focus on migration-conflict dynamics in the Ivoirian and Ghanaian cocoa regions, the model developed herein provides important insights beyond these regional contexts.