Postdoctoral Fellow James (Jay) Johnson Publishes “Challenging Policies and Contextualizing Rights: Civil Society Litigation and Refugee and Asylum Seeker Governance in South African Cities”

Postdoctoral Fellow, James (Jay) Johnson recently published his article entitled “Challenging Policies and Contextualizing Rights: Civil Society Litigation and Refugee and Asylum Seeker Governance in South African Cities.” Published in the Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, the article explores the relationship between civil society litigation and state institutions and focuses on the reopening of Refugee Reception Offices (RROs) in South Africa. The article is based on his dissertation research analyzing the intersection of urban law and politics and national refugee and asylum seeker policies and administration in post-apartheid South Africa. James’ interdisciplinary research draws on insights from sociology, urban studies, and legal studies to highlight the relevance and ambiguities of local spaces, laws, and politics concerning refugee and asylum seeker administration.

James is a Joint Postdoctoral Fellow with the University of Toronto Department of Sociology and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (MPI-MMG), Göttingen, Germany. He is currently developing broader comparative research that looks more deeply at the role of urban law and politics in shaping refugee and asylum seeker governance across cases in the Global South and North. James received his PhD from the Department of Sociology, UCLA. Additionally, he has an MA in Sociology from UCLA, MA by Research from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, and an MSc in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. James received his BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Congratulations to James on his journal publication.

An abstract of the article is below:

“There has been increasing attention to legal and political contention concerning refugees and asylum seekers in cities. However, there are further opportunities to analyze the relationship between civil society litigation and state institutions in Global South cities. In this paper, I analyze civil society litigation to re-open Refugee Reception Offices (RROs) in South Africa. Primarily based on legal research, I argue that civil society litigation to re-open RROs in specific cities represents an advocacy strategy to contextualize national rights and policies within urban spaces. The paper contributes to broader discussions on civil society advocacy and rights and governance in cities.”