This article proposes the term Departheid to capture the systemic oppression and spatial management of illegalized migrants in Western liberal states. As a concept, Departheid aims to move beyond the instrumentality of illegalizing migration in order to comprehend the tenacity with which oppressive measures are implemented even in the face of accumulating evidence for their futility in managing migration flows and the harm they cause to millions of people. The article highlights continuities between present oppressive migration regimes and past colonial configurations for controlling the mobility of what Hannah Arendt has called “subject races.” By drawing on similarities with Apartheid as a governing ideology based on racialization, segregation, and deportation, I argue that Departheid, too, is animated by a sense of moral superiority that is rooted in a fantasy of White supremacy.
BARAK KALIR is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. He is the codirector of the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies and has been leading a five-year project, funded by the European Research Council, entitled “The Social Life of State Deportation Regimes: A Comparative Study of the Implementation Interface in Greece, France, Romania, Spain, Ecuador and Israel.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org