Kiran Banerjee

Department of Political Science

Dalhousie University

CRC Research Arcs:​

Overview:

Forced migration has become an increasingly widespread feature of the contemporary world. The population of individuals globally displaced now exceeds the highest figures ever on record in the post-war period. Exacerbating this, international protection and resettlement options for refugees have significantly deteriorated in recent decades, despite a greater capacity for global governance and the intensified institutionalization of humanitarian assistance. This reality underscores the pressing need to develop new responses to forced displacement.

As Canada Research Chair in Forced Migration Governance and Refugee Protection, Kiran Banerjee’s research provides insights into how successful and sustainable refugee policies emerge. To do so, Banerjee focuses on non-state actors and agents that are often under-studied in accounts of forced migration. In bridging normative, theoretical, and policy-oriented perspectives, his research brings a holistic and multilevel analysis to the study of refugee assistance, highlighting the interdependent dimensions of effective domestic refugee resettlement, multilateral asylum policy, and global cooperation on the provision of international protection.

At a national level, Canada's ongoing commitment to the Global Compact for Refugees and supporting knowledge regarding refugee resettlement indicates a need for future work in this area. At the global level, the increased politicization of migration, alongside stalled efforts to reform the refugee regime makes such research urgently necessary. This work speaks directly to these concerns by providing valuable data and resources for the formation and crafting of a more effective refugee policy. In this way, Banerjee will advance improved solutions to forced migration across domestic, regional, and international contexts that respond to the needs of refugees.

Project Area 01|

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Arc 2: Bridging the Global and Local in International Refugee Protection​

This project advances a longitudinal analysis of refugee resettlement initiatives within the Canadian context and generate knowledge about Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) Program. Scholarly and policy-based interest in PSR has focused on the valuable integration benefits this approach has been shown to confer, while popular discussions have emphasized the contributions of ordinary Canadian citizens toward alleviating the global refugee crisis. While valuable, these points of focus do not fully engage with the significant and potentially crucial dimension of the PSR model that is the subject of Banerjee’s research: its capacity to actively transform public perceptions and generate broader domestic support for refugee assistance and resettlement.

This project, which is already underway, builds on compelling empirical evidence that suggests exposure to refugees itself, may be a strong source of support for the development of effective refugee protection policies. More recent research on shifting public attitudes toward refugees and migrants has suggested that emotive and value-driven arguments may have greater traction and success than traditional approaches to public engagement. This project therefore advances scholarly understanding of the underlying factors that contribute to the demonstrated benefits of private sponsorship, which allows integration to be realized as a two way process, while also attending to the broader societal dynamics that ultimately enable the program’s continued success and maintenance over time. To do so, Dr. Banerjee’s approach incorporates qualitative interviews as a core research method to inform his analysis of the role of non-state actors in advancing or supporting sustainable refugee policies as well as shed light on the way Canada’s current refugee resettlement initiatives have been shaped by public narratives of past historical experiences.

Building on these findings, Dr. Banerjee’s work will respond to the need for research to demonstrate the relationship between the dynamics of the private sponsorship model and domestic support for refugee resettlement. This is especially important given that the world’s refugees are voluntarily resettled by governments whose policies are shaped by their voting publics. Such considerations indicate that an equally valuable component of Canada’s private sponsorship model may lie in the shaping of public sentiments necessary to enable more effective and sustainable policies.

Project Area 02 |

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Arc 2: North American Migration Governance

Policies, Narratives, & Practices in a Time of Crisis ​

Through an assessment of existing policy frameworks within North America that govern the distribution of asylum seekers, the second project Dr. Banerjee has already begun advancing at Dalhousie develops an in-depth analysis of the bi-lateral US-Canada Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA).

Such work is particularly urgent given the emerging challenges of ‘unmanaged migration’ that policy-makers both in Canada and elsewhere have faced, with recent debates over the past two years within the Canadian government and larger public now increasingly focusing on the ‘spontaneous arrivals’ of asylum seekers. Dr. Banerjee’s research contributes to emerging work on regional migration policy, which has largely focused on Europe in the wake of the 2015 EU refugee management crisis, as well as the existing literature on the STCA that analyzes the protection gaps or potential legal contraventions of this framework. Dr. Banerjee’s hypothesis is that the emergent transnational asylum policy developed by the US and Canada, as exemplified by the STCA, represents a failure of managed migration governance, which can be explained by the dissonant imperatives and multi-leveled effects of this framework.

As part of the project, Dr. Banerjee will trace the emergence and implementation of the STCA by excavating the various aims and intended objectives of policy-makers and government officials in both Canada and the US, as well as the impact of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) interventions in its supervisory role of the Refugee Convention, during the STCA’s development and consolidation. Banerjee's work will facilitate the content analysis of public and official documents surrounding the formation of the US-Canada Safe Third Country agreement, generating knowledge regarding the underlying dynamics and decision-making processes that informed these bi-lateral arrangements, as well as their subsequent and ongoing reception by the public. Banerjee’s work also draws on findings from projects undertaken with Europe-based research clusters to provide an important comparative dimension to this research.

Project Area 03 |

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Arc 3: Reforming the Refugee Regime: International Protection & Global Governance


Forced migration has become an increasingly widespread feature of the contemporary world. The population of individuals globally displaced now exceeds the highest figures ever on record in the post-war period. Exacerbating this, international protection and resettlement options for refugees have significantly deteriorated in recent decades, despite a greater capacity for global governance and the intensified institutionalization of humanitarian assistance. This reality underscores the pressing need to develop new responses to forced displacement.

As Canada Research Chair in Forced Migration Governance and Refugee Protection, Kiran Banerjee’s research provides insights into how successful and sustainable refugee policies emerge. To do so, Banerjee focuses on non-state actors and agents that are often under-studied in accounts of forced migration. In bridging normative, theoretical, and policy-oriented perspectives, his research brings a holistic and multilevel analysis to the study of refugee assistance, highlighting the interdependent dimensions of effective domestic refugee resettlement, multilateral asylum policy, and global cooperation on the provision of international protection.

At a national level, Canada's ongoing commitment to the Global Compact for Refugees and supporting knowledge regarding refugee resettlement indicates a need for future work in this area. At the global level, the increased politicization of migration, alongside stalled efforts to reform the refugee regime makes such research urgently necessary. This work speaks directly to these concerns by providing valuable data and resources for the formation and crafting of a more effective refugee policy. In this way, Banerjee will advance improved solutions to forced migration across domestic, regional, and international contexts that respond to the needs of refugees.

Broader Research Agenda


Reflecting an ecumenical approach to scholarly work, Banerjee's research extends to various areas including international relations, normative political theory, critical race studies, the history of political thought, legal theory, and beyond.


To see more or discuss possible work please get in touch: Contact Me.