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Ethiopian diaspora in South Africa: typology and policy implications.

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This thesis is the result of a qualitative study conducted in the field of the migration-development-nexus that focused on the Ethiopian diaspora in South Africa and the policy implications thereof. The main objectives were to examine the characteristics of Ethiopian immigrants, with some reflection on their instrument of constituency development, remittances. To achieve these goals, the following questions were set: 1) what are the composition and profile of the Ethiopian diaspora in South Africa? 2) In what ways are the resultant relationships mediated in Ethiopia and South Africa? 3) What typology does the Ethiopian diaspora follow and how does this shape the nature of its remittances; 4) which analytical framework or model of migration can be developed based on the study? 5) How can the study’s findings inform South African policy on migration? The methodology was informed by a critical realist research paradigm, with interpretivist and constructivist tendencies. The approach combined textual research and field work that targeted migrant clusters in two cities, Durban and Rustenburg. These sites were selected for three reasons: availability of diverse participants, anticipation of quality data and the researcher’s familiarity with the study locations. The textual research relied on the relevant literature while the field work employed various techniques to gather primary data. These included interviews, focus group discussions (FGDs), and non-participatory observation. In total 60 participants volunteered to take part in interviews and three FGDs were held to complement the data gathered from interviews. Employing triangular synchronization between the realities of migration, the behavior of actors, and their public discourses, the study constructed original and distinct meta-analytical categories that can be regarded as extending the boundaries of migration knowledge. The new models are the Police Model, Meteorological Model, and the Ecological Model. Contemporary public and academic migration discourses are dominated by the views of the Police Model held by powerful actors involved in migration policy and action. This study proposes a paradigm shift towards an Ecological Model as the main analytical tool to understand this phenomenon. This is the antithesis to the Police Model. For instance, the Police Model cites conservative cultural factors to resist ‘South-North’ movement of people and encourages ‘North-South’ movement. Moreover, it adopts negative views of migrants as poised to ‘swarm the West’ and consequently advocates for migration control using militarized methods. It has thus perverted ecological views on immigration and remittances as it establishes links between immigrants, terror, drugs, human trafficking, trans-boundary crimes, and so forth. These linkages are contested in the Ecological Model by using the positive multiplier effects of remittances or immigration.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.