Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Canadian Refugee Policy
This dissertation is an inquiry into the politics of the frame in Canadian refugee policy. It is focused on "framing," thereby taking up the stance of critical policy studies while pressing the contribution of Donald Schön and Martin Rein in a critical and politically inflected direction. The dissertation unfolds as a political history of Canadian refugee policy that provides a "contextual mapping," relevant to both inquiry and action in regard to the framing of refugees. The main argument is that twentieth- and twenty-first- century refugee policy in Canada is a story of three shifting meta-frames: beginning with humanitarianism (in the inter-War years and the post-World War II period); shifting to neo-humanitarianism (beginning in the late 1970s, in connection with the rise of neoliberalism); then shifting again (beginning in the 1990s) to securitization. The concept of a meta-frame here is analogous to that of a "metacultural frame" in Schön and Rein, but accents political rather than cultural dimensions. This concept is developed in a manner suitable to a political history by illustrating how meta-frames both become stable and change. With humanitarianism, the refugee was typically portrayed in ambivalent terms - both deserving of and entitled to protection, while also posing a burden for the national interest. In the context of neo-humanitarianism, this ambivalence began to wane, and the refugee was more typically portrayed as a potential criminal. With securitization, especially as it has become entrenched and intensified, the refugee has been more typically portrayed as a potential terrorist. The analysis includes a focus on the particular importance of ambivalence and contingency in the politics of the frame. Securitization has become so deeply entrenched since September 11, 2001 that it appears virtually fixed in place. However, it may still become possible in moments of contingency for refugee advocates to destabilize the securitization meta-frame and help shift the framing of refugees into a more hospitable register. Author Keywords: ambivalence, contingency, humanitarianism, neo-humanitarianism, refugees, securitization

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