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Open access

From Vulnerability to Trust

Personal Encounters and Bordering Processes in the British Refugees Welcome Movement

Pierre Monforte and Gaja Maestri

Abstract

This article examines the complex and ambivalent nature of the encounters between British volunteers and refugees within the 2015 Refugees Welcome movement. The 72 interviews we conducted with volunteers active in different charities and informal networks reveal the significance of the logic of trust in these encounters. We show that although participants often base their engagement on claims that disrupt dominant narratives about border controls, they also tend to endorse and reproduce bordering processes based on the perceived trustworthiness of refugees and, sometimes, exclude some groups from their support. Taking insights from the literature on encounters and critical humanitarianism, our article highlights from a theoretical and empirical perspective how “ordinary participants” in the refugee support sector can subvert humanitarian borders, but also participate in the construction of new types of borders based on domopolitics. More generally, the article aims to highlight civil society's voluntary participation in the governance of migration.

Open access

Editorial Introduction

The Role of “Voluntariness” in the Governance of Migration

Reinhard Schweitzer, Rachel Humphris, and Pierre Monforte

Abstract

This article introduces the theme and scope of this Special Themed Section on the role of ‘voluntariness’ in the governance of migration. It provides an overarching framework for defining and operationalising the notion of voluntariness in the field of migration studies; and for investigating how voluntariness works across different sites, situations and in distinct national contexts. We understand voluntariness as a general principle and instrument that (re)produces the active participation of different actors across society in the (state-driven) management of migration. This focus leads us to explore key dimensions in the shifting (neo-liberal) governmentality of migration in contemporary societies. The introduction makes the case for bringing together seemingly disparate examples and case studies in order to shed new light on how certain ascribed meanings and understandings of voluntariness can shape the actions of very different subjects involved in contemporary bordering processes.

Open access

A Conversation with Phevos Simeonidis (Disinfaux Collective), 21 July 2021

Maria Nerina Boursinou, Pierre Monforte, and Phevos Simeonidis

Abstract

In this interview with Nerina Boursinou and Pierre Monforte, Phevos Simeonidis—cofounder of the Disinfaux Collective—reflects on the role of civil society organizations in the field of refugee support in Greece, in particular through the focus on their relations with public authorities. The interview provides an account of the changing environment in the field of migration and the diversity of the organizations working to support refugees in Greece, while it highlights such organizations’ ambivalent relations with public authorities. Moreover, the interview discusses the impact of the measures taken by the Greek government(s) to control or repress the activities of civil society organizations in recent years, including their criminalization. Finally, it makes reference to the complex ethics that accompany migration research and support practices, especially in relation to the collective's operation and decision-making processes.