This thesis explores the phenomenon of political mobilization among refugees, with a focus on refugees residing in neighbouring countries to an on-going conflict: Sudanese refugees in Uganda. Refugee mobilization is a complex issue which involves understanding refugees as both cause and consequence of conflict. Refugees can be either victims and warriors, or indeed both.
How does the international refugee regime influence political mobilization among refugees? How does the host state affect mobilization? How do factors within the exile community shape political mobilization? And how do the international refugee regime, the host state, and the exile community interact? From these main research questions, the thesis analyses political opportunity structures and the role of collective identity processes in political mobilization among refugees. Refugee mobilization is thus approached through a critical discussion of concepts from social movements theory.
Refugee mobilization is analysed in relation to three factors: the international refugee regime, the host state and the exile community itself. These are analysed separately in three different chapters; attention is also paid to the interaction among these factors and its impact on refugee mobilization.
The study is qualitative and explorative in character. The topic is approached through both secondary and primary sources. Primary sources consist of qualitative interviews and observation from three months of fieldwork among Sudanese refugees in Uganda. Secondary sources are academic literature on refugee issues and political mobilization, and reports and literature relevant for the case at hand.
The literature on refugee mobilization has tended to focus on the role of the international refugee regime and the host state, ignoring the impact of social and political processes within the exile community itself. This thesis demonstrates the importance of examining the social and political processes within the exile community itself, and how these interact with the host state and the international refugee regime. Such an approach can provide a more comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon.This understanding has relevance for refugee protection, for understandings of complex conflicts and for a more nuanced regional perspective on armed conflict and its resolution.