Date of Degree

2-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Political Science

Advisor(s)

Susan L. Woodward

Subject Categories

Political Science

Keywords

citizen, diaspora, Liberian, migration, refugee, transnational

Abstract

This study examines the relationship between civic participation in homeland peacebuilding and immigrants' political incorporation and integration in their local communities in the United States. It explores the impact of state (U.S. and Liberia) policies and local context on individuals' civic participation locally and in transnational activities. The study demonstrates the mechanisms through which state policies and local context influence Liberians' political participation in the United States and their transnational citizenship, defined as full legal membership and civic participation. The relationship between civic engagement in the United States and in transnational activities is not an adversarial one. Engagement with the diaspora correlates positively with integration in the United States and vice versa. In fact, those Liberians who participate most actively in their local communities in the United States are also the ones who engage most frequently in transnational activities. The ability of Liberians to participate fully in their local and transnational communities, however, is affected by U.S. immigration and reception policies that have promoted integration for refugees and asylees but, at the same time, trapped many Liberians with TPS/DED in a legal limbo. The study highlights the social nature of political involvement and the importance of context in promoting Liberians' political belonging in the United States and as transnational citizens.

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