Grad Students

Jay Johnson



Contact Information

Email    jamesgjohnson@ucla.edu
Office  Not Available

My dissertation looks at the potential role of urban politics, spaces, and infrastructure on the implementation and development of refugee and asylum seeker law and policy.  While the administration of legal status and rights for refugees and asylum seekers is often attributed to national policies and international law – urban actors and institutions may also play on important role in influencing the implementation and development of such policies.  For example, business associations may draw on municipal by-laws to contest the presence of asylum offices in their vicinity while civil society organizations may draw on courts and networks across cities to hold these centers accountable to national and international law.  In order to develop this argument, I have been looking at Refugee Reception Offices (RROs) – sites of mandatory registration and processing to receive and maintain asylum status – in South African cities.  Since the early 2000s, these centers have been primarily located within the country’s major cities.  However, over the past two decades they have been subject to numerous legal challenges by various actors – either in support of closing down these offices or keeping them open in face of proposed policies to move these offices to the borders.  Through an analysis of legal case records, stakeholder interviews, and field observations, I explore the interaction among international, state, and urban actors in shaping refugee and asylum seeker law and policy regarding these offices, and what this process means for the construction of social boundaries and physical borders more broadly within cities and across countries.  The research was funded by a Fulbright-Hays DDRA fellowship.  

Fields of Study

political sociology, international migration, forced migration studies, urban studies, Global South, community-based learning

Grants and Awards

  • Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship - $30,000 - 2016
  • Excellence in Teaching Award, Department of Sociology, UCLA – 2015 and 2016
  • Graduate Research Mentorship Fellowship, UCLA Graduate Division, $20,000 - 2013
  • Maurice J. and Fay B. Karpf Peace Prize, $5,000 – 2011
  • Ford Predoctoral Fellowship Honorable Mention - 2011
  • Graduate Summer Research Mentorship, UCLA Graduate Division, $5,000 – 2011
  • UCLA Department of Sociology Fellowship, $16,000 per annum  – 2010 - 2015
  • US Fulbright Student Research Grant – South Africa, $21,000 – 2009

Conference Presentations

Johnson, Jay G. 2019. “Urban Politics and Refugee Reception Offices: Contesting Integration and Constructing Social Boundaries through Litigation in South African Cities.” Presented at the Canadian Association for Forced Migration and Refugee Studies (CARFMS) Annual Conference, “Interrogating Integration,” May 14 -16, York University, Toronto. Funding provided by the UCLA Canadian Studies Program.

Johnson, Jay G. 2019. “State Borders, Urban Boundaries, and Legal Identities: The Case of Refugee Reception Offices in South African Cities.” Presented at the Critical Perspectives on Race and Human Rights: Transnational Re-Imaginings Symposium, UCLA School of UCLA, March 8, 2019.

Johnson, Jay (2018). "Refugee Reception Offices and Contested Rights in South African Cities." Presented at the ASA Annual Meeting 2018, Session: "Refugees: Comparative Perpsectives from Above and Below," August 11-14, Philadelphia, PA.

Johnson, Jay (James). 2018. "Closure of Refugee Reception Offices in South Africa." Presented at the Oslo Migration Conference: Vulnerability, Protection and Agency; hosted by the Faculty of Law, Univerity of Oslo, and Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), May 24-25, Oslo, Norway.

Johnson, Jay. 2018. “Contested Rights and Spaces in the City: the Case of Refugee Reception Offices in South Africa.” Presented at the Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal, March 13, Durban, South Africa. 

Johnson, Jay. 2018. “Urban Politics and Refugee Law: Refugee Reception Offices and Contested Residence in South African Cities.” Presented at the African Cities Centre Urban Conference, University of Cape Town, Feb. 1-3, Cape Town, South Africa.

Johnson, Jay. 2017. “Urban Politics and Refugee Law: Refugee Reception Offices and Contested Residence in South African Cities.” Presented at the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa (SIHMA), Oct. 31, Cape Town, South Africa.

Johnson, Jay (James). 2013. "Integration and Diaspora: An Analysis of Discourses Used by Migrant Civil Society Organizations in South Africa." Presented at the annual meeting for the African Studies Association, Nov. 21-24, Baltimore, MD. 

Johnson, Jay (James). 2013.  "Integration and Diaspora: An Analysis of Discourses Used by Migrant Civil Society Organizations in South Africa.”  Presented at the colloquium "Taming the Demons: Reflections on Xenophobia, Social Cohesion, and Violence in Contemporary  South Africa,” May 10, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Advisors

Roger Waldinger (Chair), Lauren Duquette-Rury, Edward Walker, Tendayi Achiume (Law), Andrew Apter (History)

Collaborators

Fellow at the Academy for African Urban Diversity (AAUD), co-hosted by the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (MPI-MMG), Gottingen, Germany (September 2018) and the
African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (November 2017).

Degrees

C.Phil (2015) Sociology - UCLA

MA (2012) Sociology - UCLA

MA by Research (2010) Forced Migration Studies - African Centre for Migration and Society, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

MSc (2006) Global Politics - London School of Economics and Political Science

BA (2005) Peace and Conflict Studies  - UC-Berkeley