Authoritarian emigration states: soft power and cross-border mobility in the Middle East

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Abstract

Can labor emigration form part of a state’s foreign policy goals? The relevant literature links emigration to states’ developmental needs, which does not explain why some states choose to economically subsidize their citizens’ emigration. This article explores for the first time the soft power importance of high-skilled emigration from authoritarian emigration states. It finds that the Egyptian state under Gamal Abdel Nasser employed labor emigration for two distinct purposes linked to broader soft power interests: first, as an instrument of cultural diplomacy to spread revolutionary ideals of Arab unity and anti-imperialism across the Middle East; second, as a tool for disseminating development aid, particularly in Yemen and sub-Saharan Africa. Drawing on Arabic and non-Arabic primary sources, the article identifies the interplay between foreign policy and cross-border mobility, while also sketching an evolving research agenda on authoritarian emigration states’ policy-making.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-416
JournalInternational Political Science Review
Volume39
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

Keywords

  • soft power , Emigration, migrant labour, Egypt, Education Policy, Middle East, Authoritarianism, Autocracies, Teachers, Nasser