Mig. Pol. 1, 004 (2022) ·
published 14 June 2022
Humor is widely recognized as a fundamental aspect of the human experience, that has also played a vital role in the way marginalized groups comment on and mock power. Yet, in migration research the methodological and analytical value of humor has been largely overlooked. Rather, migration studies has commonly centered its analysis around suffering and tragedy and, in the process, depicted migrant trajectories as endeavors largely devoid of laughter, humor, irony and play. This article suggests that such humorless representations of the migration process – and indeed of the migrant subject itself – has broader implications for the types of knowledge that we (re)produce around migrants’ experiences, subjectivities and struggles. In fact, it argues that migration studies’ failure to recognize migrants as humorous individuals risks feeding into processes of exceptionalization and de-humanization through setting “the migrant” up as an obscure figure that lacks “essentially human” qualities. In order to make the case for the humorous in migration research, the article illustrates how refugees arriving to the Greek island of Lesvos in the early summer of 2015 laughed at their own predicament as well as the technologies put in place to control their freedom of movement and how their laughter, humor and comic displays did important political work in refusing subjugation, in speaking truth to power and in capturing the absurdity of the violence that they faced.
Mig. Pol. 1, 002 (2022) ·
published 4 May 2022
This article develops an alternative definition of a migrant that embraces the perspective of mobility. Starting from the observation that the term ‘migrant’ has become a stigmatizing label that problematizes the mobility or the residency of people designated as such, we in-vestigate the implications of nation-state centered conceptions of migration which define migration as movement from nation-state A to nation-state B. By asking ‘Who is a migrant in Europe today?’ we show that nation-state centered understandings of migration rest on a deeply entrenched methodological nationalism and implicate three epistemological traps that continue to shape much of the research on migration: first, the naturalization of the in-ternational nation-state order that results, secondly, in the ontologisation of ‘migrants’ as ready-available objects of research, while facilitating, thirdly, the framing of migration as problem of government. To overcome these epistemological traps, we develop an alternative conception of migration that, inspired by the autonomy of migration approach, adopts the perspective of mobility while highlighting the constitutive role that nation-states’ bordering practices play in the enactment of some people as migrants. Importantly, this definition al-lows to turn the study of instances of migrantisation into an analytical lens for investigating transformations in contemporary border and citizenship regimes.
Mig. Pol. 1, 001 (2022) ·
published 21 March 2022
By highlighting informal strategies and solidarities on the one hand, and protests on the other, current studies of citizenship and illegalized migration describe two main forms of political subjectivities among illegalized migrants: ‘without’ the state or ‘against’ it. In contrast, this article unpacks how migrants make use of state laws and institutions, voice expectations, and pursue their claims using official venues – in short, how they act ‘with’ the state. It builds on ethnographic fieldwork on illegalized migrants’ welfare requests in French-speaking Belgium and the various sets of actors involved in assessing or furthering their cases. Migrants’ discourses and expectations of the welfare office provide insights into their understandings of the state, highlight the crucial role of immigration lawyers in brokering cases, and ultimately allow for a more nuanced reading of the idea that welfare dependency leads to deportability. On a theoretical level, this article contributes to ongoing debates both in the study of statehood and in migration studies, showing how procedural fairness can be a central aspect of – in this case – migrants’ relationship to and expectations of the state, and how migrants’ strategies and practices of inclusion can also be formal ones, based on existing state laws and institutions.
Mig. Pol. 1, 003 (2022) ·
published 25 May 2022
Literature on immigrant housing and assimilation has shown how housing policies perpetuate, create and contest racial boundaries. This paper argues for the necessity to look at the regulation of domestic space together with the regulation of the urban space. By reading “along” and “against” the archival grain, this paper looks at housing policies that targeted the North-African migrant population in the 1960s and 1970s in France as colonial continuities. French authorities ostensibly encouraged gendered assimilation through spatial politics and interventions in the domestic space. Literature on the French context has shown how this perpetuated racialisation in the housing process. Building upon feminist scholarship on gender, intimacy, and colonialism, this paper shows how these policies did not acknowledge interracialised households and prevented interracialised intimacies. This helps understand how housing policies can reinforce racialised exclusion by regulating racial boundaries in the urban space and the domestic space together.