Deportation regimes mobilise coercive state powers, but also entail extensive paperwork, the latter of which remains underexplored in deportation studies. Building on ethnographic fieldwork in border police units and a migration-related detention centre in Sweden, this article explores how bureaucratic practices of detecting, detaining and ultimately deporting people whose presence has been illegalised are enforced and legitimated through the use of paperwork. Paperwork, we argue, becomes the ‘signature of the state’ that enables state agencies to assert themselves as ‘rational’ actors, even when their own practices are ridden by dilemmas, inconsistency and sometimes arbitrariness. We show how the same documents that are meant to ensure fairness and accountability in bureaucratic processes may render state actions even more unreadable, and further serve to rationalise and legitimise intrusive, violent and discriminatory state actions. The article thus highlights the importance of considering the often-tedious paperwork as essential to the operation of coercive state powers, such as the detainment and deportation of illegalised persons.
Legitimating state violence in the Swedish deportation regime
Lisa Marie Borrelli and Annika Lindberg
The Politics of “Intolerability” in the Danish Migration and Integration Regimes
Julia Suárez-Krabbe and Annika Lindberg
Across Northern European states, we can observe a proliferation of “hostile environments” targeting racialized groups. This article zooms in on Denmark and discusses recent policy initiatives that are explicitly aimed at excluding, criminalizing, and inflicting harm on migrants and internal “others” by making their lives “intolerable.” We use the example of Danish deportation centers to illustrate how structural racism is institutionalized and implemented, and then discuss the centers in relation to other recent policy initiatives targeting racialized groups. We propose that these policies must be analyzed as complementary bordering practices: externally, as exemplified by deportation centers, and internally, as reflected in the development of parallel legal regimes for racialized groups. We argue that, taken together, they enact and sustain a system of apartheid.