Symposium: Producing (Im)Mobilities: Do States Create Vulnerabilities?

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Keynote abstracts

Professor Nicholas De Genova: The Convulsive European Space of Mobilities

How might the primacy, autonomy, and subjectivity of human mobility on a global (transnational, intercontinental, cross-border) scale instructively problematize our very sense of what is at stake intellectually and politically in the work of postcolonial cultural critique? One key area of concern is the largely unexamined methodological sedentarism and the civic (if not identitarian) nativism that commonly plague the study of migration and refugee movements. There has been an unrelenting proliferation of official discourses of “crisis” and “emergency” over the last several years, including but not at all restricted to the dominant discursive formation that has arisen from the confrontation between the sovereign powers of Europe and migrant and refugee movements across the borders of “Europe.” Uncritical research in migration studies often recapitulates this beleaguered sensibility of a Europe besieged and wracked by a putative “migrant crisis.” Between an asylum system predicated upon suspicion and a border regime ever increasingly dedicated to the intensifying the purview of detention and deportation, on the one hand, and the increasing virulence of anti-immigrant racist populist movements, on the other, Europe — rather than a space of refuge or freedom — has become a space of rejection for most migrants and refugees. This dialectic of autonomous human mobilities and the forces arrayed to alternately govern, discipline, punish, and repel them render Europe a convulsive space, a space of convulsions. Nonetheless, alarmist reactions to an ostensible “migrant” or “refugee crisis” in Europe have lent an unprecedented prominence to the veritable and undeniable autonomy of (transnational, cross-border) migrant and refugee mobilities, replete with their heterogeneity of insistent, disobedient, and incorrigible practices of appropriating mobility and making claims to space.

Dr. Jill Alpes: Immobility Through Returns? Vulnerabilities of Migrants after Deportation and Assisted Return in Mali, Niger and Nigeria

This presentation focuses on post-return challenges and protection issues. This focus connects with ongoing debates on return and reintegration packages. The underlying assumption of actors and scholars in this field is that return programs and reintegration packages are effective if they lead to sustainable reintegration. Aimed at cross-country comparability, evaluations and studies in this field start with pre-given definitions of integration and sustainability. This presentation explores post-return challenges and protection issues for deportees from Europe and returnees from Libya in respectively Niger, Nigeria and Mali. In particular, the paper will explore how post-return challenges and protection issues compare with people’s situation before the initial emigration project, as well as which post-return challenges and protection issues cannot be addressed through changes in return and reintegration support packages. The presentation is based on semi-guided open-ended qualitative interviews with returnees from Libya and deportees from Europe. This presentation closes with a discussion of how the voices and experiences of returnees and deportees challenge assumptions in the policy debate, as well as approaches to protect and support them after return.


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