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Dynamic Spaces of Refugee Governance: The Case of Boa Vista, Roraima, Brazil


This thesis examines the scalar politics within spaces of refugee governance in Boa Vista, Roraima, Brazil. Centering on Opera��o Acolhida (Operation Welcome), the Brazilian governmental response to the increase in Venezuelan migration to Brazil, this thesis expands on neo-liberalizing trends of governance structures. Through detailing the inter-organizational relationships and coordination practices, I demonstrate how Boa Vista’s shifting spaces of refugee governance often leads to upscaling and devolution of authority and responsibilities both within and between state and non-state actors. I then conduct a comparative analysis of the UNHCR and IOM’s institutional vulnerability models to demonstrate how universal vulnerability metrics largely obscures the vulnerability specificities of the remote state of Roraima. Lastly, I demonstrate how devolution and upscaling manifest specifically in the case of vulnerable Indigenous Venezuelan refugees in Brazil. I connect the historical-political trajectory of FUNAI (the Brazilian federal agency for Indigenous populations) to its current avoidant practices towards incoming Indigenous Venezuelans and the subsequent reliance on civil society infrastructure. I conclude by considering how the current spatial-temporal context of COVID-19 has both modified and challenged these dynamic spaces of refugee governance.

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