Citizenship and displacement: naturalisation of Burundian refugees in Tanzania (2010-2017)
Kuch, Amelia Magdalena
Between 2010-2017, 150,000 of Burundian refugees, whose families fled to Tanzania in the 1970s, received citizenship in Tanzania. This thesis explores how the experience of naturalisation shaped Burundian refugees’ views of citizenship, and considers how this can help develop understanding of citizenship more broadly, especially in a displacement context. My research traces the implementation and aftermath of naturalisation in Ulyankulu settlement and the city of Dar es Salaam between 2014 and 2017, focusing on and foregrounding former refugees’ experiences and narratives of citizenship and displacement. The methods employed in this study were ethnographic in nature and included repeated visits to the research sites, living with the community members, learning Kiswahili, and conducting over 160 interviews. Unlike the existing studies of naturalisation which focus solely on the settlements, this thesis adopts a multi-sited approach, which incorporates insights from both rural and urban settings, drawing parallels and contrasting the various experiences and perspectives. The thesis builds on the existing literature on citizenship, displacement and their nexus (Arendt 1973; Malkki 1995; Kibreab 1999; Warner 1999; Kelly 2006; Long, 2013a; Bakewell 2011; Brun 2015; Grabska 2015; Hammar 2014, 2018), contributing new empirical and conceptual insights on the complexity of evolving citizenship for those who are long-term displacees. Drawing on former refugees’ experiences and narratives, the thesis puts forward a new concept of ‘probational citizenship’ which aims to capture the temporality, uncertainty, and ongoing struggles for recognition in displacement. Former refugees living with ‘probational citizenship’ experience a paradoxical interplay of both safety and uncertainty about their status, which dominates their lives and shapes their actions post-naturalisation. To shed light on these processes, the thesis brings together a combination of key aspects of citizenship in a context of displacement and settlement, not often addressed at the same time, namely political representation, land rights, mobility, and materiality of citizenship.