Tag Archives: Migration

Joe Trapido: Breaking Rocks: Music, Ideology and Economic Collapse, from Paris to Kinshasa

Breaking Rocks is a volume of the Dislocations series published by Berghahn Books, a series closely associated with Focaal and FocaalBlog. The immense dislocations and suffering caused by neoliberal globalization the retreat of the welfare state in the last decades of the twentieth century, and the heightened military imperialism at the turn of the twenty-first century have raised urgent questions about the temporal and spatial dimensions of power. Through stimulating critical perspectives and new and cross-disciplinary frameworks, which reflect recent innovations in the social and human sciences, this series provides a forum for politically engaged, ethnographically informed, and theoretically incisive responses.

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Polina Manolova: Brexit and the production of “illegal” EU migrants

Bulgarians on their way to the “West”

EU immigration was the primary source of contention in the debates surrounding the recent referendum about the United Kingdom’s EU membership. The “leave” campaign continuously bombarded the public with warnings about “uncontrollable hordes” of EU benefit seekers (for a discussion on the construction of migrant categories, see Apostolova 2016) planning to permanently settle for the “easy” life in the UK and take away the jobs of the locals. Likewise, the “remain” campaign promised to crack down on the number of immigrants and further restrict the rights of newcomers. In this way, both camps reinforced the perception that immigration from the EU, and in particular from eastern Europe, is a problem. Furthermore, in their effort to make the case for a “remain” scenario, academic voices tirelessly demonstrated the economic, cultural, and demographic benefits of EU migration. Such efforts, however well intended, still feed into an instrumentalist policy perspective that constructs migrants’ lives as only important in terms of their added value for the local economy.
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Vicki Squire: 12 days in Lampedusa: The potential and perils of a photo essay

This post is also part of a series on migration and the refugee crisis moderated and edited by Prem Kumar Rajaram (Central European University).

I visited Lampedusa from 24 September to 5 October 2015 to commence fieldwork research for my new project, Human Dignity and Biophysical Violence: Migrant Deaths across the Mediterranean Sea. This photo essay documents some of the key encounters that I experienced during my visit.

I want to stress here that I originally had no intention of collecting images for a photo essay as part of this trip. I spontaneously took the photos on my mobile phone, and there is much room for improvement in terms of technical and compositional quality. Moreover, my compilation of these images into an essay is far from how I might have chosen if I had planned to produce a photo essay from the start. Despite its various limitations, I nevertheless hope that the essay is of value.
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Elissa Helms: Men at the borders: Gender, victimhood, and war in Europe’s refugee crisis

This post is part of a series on migration and the refugee crisis moderated and edited by Prem Kumar Rajaram (Central European University).

Even for the kind of conservative politics that argues for keeping asylum seekers out of the European Union or the United States, a variety of social roles and behavior are deemed acceptable for men and women. Why then, when issues revolve around war and bare survival, do debates fall back on such rigid assumptions about men as soldiers and political actors and women as victims or objects of protection? Why is it taken as a given that men traveling alone cannot be legitimate refugees? That empathy and victimhood should be naturally and only associated with women and children?
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Raia Apostolova: Economic vs. political: Violent abstractions in Europe’s refugee crisis

This post is part of a series on migration and the refugee crisis moderated and edited by Prem Kumar Rajaram (Central European University).

The “economic migrant” must leave. From Berlin’s widening of the definition of “safe country” zones and the fast execution of deportation orders, to hunters of economic migrants along the Bulgarian–Turkish border, our memory is persistently being pressed on the idea that the European space is reserved for “genuine refugees” only. Refugees are welcome. Their counterpoint—the economic migrant—is not. In the second post of this series, Manuela Bojadzijev and Sandro Mezzadra write, “One can see … a ‘difference machine’ at work, which discriminates between ‘first-class’ refugees of brutal war (the Syrians) and potential seekers of political asylum (the Iraqis) while branding people from the Balkans as ‘economic migrants.’” We see, however, that this “difference machine” works in a complete oscillation; it moves back and forth from one extreme to the other and it feeds on the contradictions it breeds. It produces unstable categories and where “first class” qualities could be sensed ostensible for a moment, they quickly retreat to previously engendered anxieties. The temporal protection that is currently being distributed to Syrians is precisely this: a temporal protection from being labeled an “economic migrant.” What does it mean, however, to accept one’s refugee-ness but not one’s economic migrant-ness? How does the so-called “refugee crisis” articulate the economy, the labour market, and humanitarianism?
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Rachel Smith: The “hidden abodes” of temporary migration programs

Organizations such as the World Bank have repeated what has been called the “migration development mantra.” In this, remittances appear as a panacea—or “wonder drug” (Green 2015)—for economic development, while in real world interactions “social remittances” import liberal ideals such as “work ethic,” “financial literacy,” and democracy. Thus, this “mantra” reflects a neoliberal revival of 1960s modernization narratives (Glick Schiller and Faist 2010; Wise and Covarrubias 2009) with which it promotes temporary worker programs in particular, as they facilitate the return of the migrant and remittances and thus (it is assumed) greater economic development in the area of origin.
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Manuela Bojadžijev & Sandro Mezzadra: “Refugee crisis” or crisis of European migration policies?

This post is part of a series on migration and the refugee crisis moderated and edited by Prem Kumar Rajaram (Central European University).

“The refugee crisis in Europe is fabricated,” Prem Kumar Rajaram writes in the opening post of this series. It is certainly true that the framing of current events in terms of crisis and emergence contributes to a dramatization of the situation and opens up the space for “certain forms of intervention and the production of specific types of subjects.” This frame reproduces a division of labor, according to which migrants and refugees play a passive role while states, governments, and European institutions are the active agents, called upon to intervene and solve the “crisis.” This is part and parcel of a process through which the “crisis” becomes a governmental category and device.
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Prem Kumar Rajaram: Beyond crisis: Rethinking the population movements at Europe’s border

This post is part of a series on migration and the refugee crisis moderated and edited by Prem Kumar Rajaram (Central European University).

Crisis
The refugee crisis in Europe is fabricated. Like most “crises,” the recent onset of people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan trying to cross into the European Union is a representation. Anxiety and specific readings of law and humanitarianism frame this issue. This framing works inward as well as outward. Inward, it establishes a dominant regulating norm—an idea of “the refugee”—that allows for internal comparison and inequalities (people are said to have varying rights to protection). Outward, the framing helps create an understanding of a complex situation—an abstracted understanding—and allows for policy makers and commentators to treat “the refugee crisis” as an exceptional condition. As exception, that crisis appears to be regarded and treated as an “event” distinct from the political “norm,” and it enables a vertical form of politics. The crisis is the state acting as it tends to, as a protection racket in Charles Tilly’s memorable take, defining a danger or threat that strengthens its force and its hold over territory.
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