Egyptian dissidents abroad after 2013: a comparison between Tunisia and Italy

Piazzese, Giovanni (2022). Egyptian dissidents abroad after 2013: a comparison between Tunisia and Italy. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Since 2013, Egypt’s difficult transition to a fully working democracy was abruptly interrupted by a bloody army coup which transformed the country into a fierce authoritarian regime across the Northern African region. Unlawful detention, sham judiciary trials, torture, and killing of Egyptian civilians became widespread, making impossible for number of Egyptian politicians, activists, journalists and many others to live in their homeland. Therefore, this dissertation investigates the development of Egypt’s regime practices of repression and control and its reflection on the Egyptian emigration process, including the effects it produced upon Egyptian dissidents abroad and those seeking to leave the country. Drawing on a multidisciplinary approach which combines migration literature, political science, sociology, transnational studies, and diaspora mobilisation researches, this dissertation aims to expand traditional economic-based perspectives on Egyptian migration and it argues that unprecedent post-2013 levels of repression have pushed a remarkable number of Egyptians abroad to avoid detention, torture, and death. By focusing on Egyptians living in Tunisia and Italy, the dissertation outlines the factors informing their decision to leave their country, their migratory trajectories, and the consequences stemming from their choice to keep fighting the Egyptian regime from afar. Therefore, this dissertation contributes to the existing academic debate on Egyptian emigration by stressing the link between the development of a harsher repressive system and the growth of cross-cut politically and security-motivated emigration, a topic which has been often overlooked by more quantitative studies analysing the economic impact of diasporas in national development projects, the level of remittances sent back to Egypt, and how diasporas turned into an instrument in the hands of the government to ease unbalances in the domestic job market.

Moreover, this research encourages academics to look at current Egyptian emigration as a multi-factorial phenomenon where agents, structures, institutions, and discourses are to be considered in an integrative, rather than hierarchical, fashion to fully understand how they co-work in shaping global emigration dynamics. By implementing a theoretical approach which brings together agents, structures, institutions, and discourses informing people outflow, the dissertation seeks to elucidate recent emigration trend in Egypt and links it to the evolution of its repressive system, rather than to economic push/pull factors only. For such reason, within the dissertation repression is not simply conceived as a domestic issue affecting national records and the number of people leaving Egypt, rather, it has also a transnational and pervasive dimension which works through the development of monitoring and surveillance actions targeting fellow citizens abroad. Such actions have eventually cut family relation, professional careers, connection to homeland, and prompted Egyptians abroad to seek a fragile compromise between open contestation and full demobilisation tactics to avoid repercussions for themselves and their families back home.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
J Political Science > JZ International relations


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