Publication Date

2013-12-13

Availability

Embargoed

Embargo Period

2015-12-13

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

International Studies (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2013-11-11

First Committee Member

Bruce Bagley

Second Committee Member

Casey Klofstad

Third Committee Member

Edmund Abaka

Fourth Committee Member

Bernd Reiter

Abstract

This research project examines factors that have influenced community engagement among immigrants from Zimbabwe living in Cape Town, South Africa. A case study of PASSOP (an immigrant rights organization in Cape Town) tests existing theories on civic participation through interviews with immigrants, knowledgeable informants and activists. The study identifies reasons for leaving Zimbabwe and legal status in South Africa as factors that influence why undocumented immigrants participate in or withdraw from civil society in Cape Town. The results indicate that the conditions of the country of origin and the related reasons for leaving—political and economic degradation in Zimbabwe—heavily influence the decisions of immigrants to engage in their adopted communities. In addition, South Africa’s haphazard immigration system makes documentation onerous and difficult while xenophobic tensions make integration precarious. This study has implications for policymakers, activists and academics concerned with the integration of new immigrants in their new home country.

Keywords

migration; immigration; zimbabwe; civic participation; country of origin; south africa

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