Since 2015, the European Union has stepped up its efforts to curb irregular migration from sub-Saharan Africa through increasingly restrictive measures targeting transit countries along migratory routes, including Niger. While the EU has heralded the success of its policies to limit migration through Niger, EU migration policies have disrupted the economic system in Agadez, where transit migration has been one of the main sources of income and a factor of stability since the end of the Tuareg rebellions in 2009. This article discusses the impact that EU migration policies may have at the local level in countries of transit, and highlights the potential for these policies to fuel tensions between local and national authorities. The Agadez case study illustrates the importance of a multilevel approach to migration governance that takes into full consideration the role of local authorities and local communities in countries of transit.
Stemming the Flows of Migrants, but at What Cost?
An Interview with Vice Mayor Lefteris Papagiannakis
Aris Komporozos-Athanasiou and Nina Papachristou
In this interview with UCL’s Aris Komporozos-Athanasiou, Lefteris Papagiannakis explains his role as Athens’ vice mayor for migrants and refugees. He discusses the city’s responses to the arrival of thousands of refugees and migrants in the last few years. He reflects on the complex relationship of the municipality of Athens with non-government support networks, such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations, as well as autonomous local activists, in providing support services to migrants. Papagiannakis also addresses how Athens negotiates its support for these groups in the current European anti-immigrant climate, and the relationship between the Greek economic crisis and the so-called “refugee crisis.”
Withheld Stories and the Limits of Ethnographic Knowability
How to write about survival? How to tell survival? By exploring manifold reasons to withhold a story, I shed light on the limits of ethnographic knowledge production and the politics of storytelling that mobilize one story and silence another. Through engaging with the fragmented narrative of a Moroccan survivor of a shipwreck in Spanish waters in 2003, I reconceptualize the movement called “migration as survival” by theorizing it as an ethnographic concept. I explore the different temporalities of survival as living through a life-threatening event and as living on in an unjust world. These interrelated temporalities of survival are embedded in the afterlife of the historical time of al-Andalus and the resurgent fear of the Muslim “Other.” By suggesting an existentially informed political understanding of the survival story, I show how the singularity of the survivor is inscribed in a regime of mobility that constrains people and their stories.
Scope, Experiences and Developments
The article overviews the current state of migration studies in Bulgaria. It is argued that their deficiencies stem from the fact that they are nationally embedded, contingent on ongoing public and political discourses, almost exclusively limited to the sociological, psychological and cultural dimensions of migration, and largely operating with the concepts of community, ethnicity and identity, despite the increasing share of ethnographic descriptions of good quality in the field. The further development of migration studies in Bulgaria will depend on the elaboration of a more complex and systematic analytical framework. A shift from community and ethnicity to gender, kinship, social networks and other explanatory categories is needed. It is also necessary to see the variety of forms of commonality and interaction between migrants in order to see migration as a dynamic phenomenon. Finally, it is crucial to develop an interdisciplinary theoretical framework that would best fit the complex nature of migration.
Lessons from Collaborative Research on Sanctuary in the Changing Times of Trump
Sara Vannini, Ricardo Gomez, Megan Carney and Katharyne Mitchell
We reflect on the experience of a cross-disciplinary collaboration between scholars in the fields of geography, anthropology, communication, and information studies, and suggest paths for future research on sanctuary and migration studies that are based on interdisciplinary approaches. After situating sanctuary in a wider theoretical, historical, and global context, we discuss the origins and contemporary expressions of sanctuary both within and beyond faith-based organizations. We include the role of collective action, personal stories, and artistic expressions as part of the new sanctuary movement, as well as the social and political forms of outrage that lead to rekindling protest and protection of undocumented immigrants, refugees, and other minorities and vulnerable populations. We conclude with a discussion on the urgency for interdisciplinary explorations of these kinds of new, contemporary manifestations of sanctuary, and suggest paths for further research to deepen the academic dialogue on the topic.
Jelena Tošić and Annika Lems
Th is contribution introduces the collection of texts in this special section of Migration and Society exploring contemporary patterns of im/mobility between Africa and Europe. It proposes an ontological-epistemological framework for investigating present-day movements via three core dimensions: (1) a focus on im/mobility explores the intertwinement of mobility and stasis in the context of biographical and migratory pathways and thus goes beyond a binary approach to migration; (2) an existential and dialogical-ethnographic approach zooms in on individual experiences of im/mobility and shows that the personal-experiential is not apolitical, but represents a realm of everyday struggles and quests for a good life; and (3) a genealogical-historical dimension explores present-day migratory quests through their embeddedness within legacies of (post)colonial power relations and interconnections and thus counteracts the hegemonic image of immigration from Africa as having no history and legitimacy.
From Dubs to Doubt
Rachel Rosen and Sarah Crafter
This article analyzes coverage of separated child migrants in three British tabloids between the introduction of the Dubs Amendment, which committed to relocating unaccompanied minors to the UK, and the demolition of the unofficial refugee camp in Calais. This camp has been a key symbol of Europe’s “migration crisis” and the subject of significant media attention in which unaccompanied children feature prominently. By considering the changes in tabloid coverage over this time period, this article highlights the increasing contestation of the authenticity of separated children as they began arriving in the UK under Dubs, concurrent with representations of “genuine” child migrants as innocent and vulnerable. We argue that attention to proximity can help account for changing discourses and that the media can simultaneously sustain contradictory views by preserving an essentialized view of “the child,” grounded in racialized, Eurocentric, and advanced capitalist norms. Together, these points raise questions about the political consequences of framing hospitality in the name of “the child.”
Is Multiperspectivity an Adequate Response?
This article raises the question of how German textbooks should deal with issues of migration as one of the main challenges in a globalizing age. In order to prepare the ground for a well-founded answer it follows a twofold agenda. In a rst step, previous attempts at analyzing textbook representations of migration are critically scrutinized and read against the background of current debates on methodological approaches to textbook research. In a second step, anthropological research on the structure of public German discourses on migration is cited as a key to developing a truly multiperspectival mode of representing it. Ultimately, the article demonstrates that education alone cannot be given the responsibility of clarifying questions that politics have failed to articulate and that pupils must be taught to participate competently in the discourse on migration policy. They should be familiarized with the various positions advocated in the political sphere, and simultaneously equipped with the necessary tools for critical re ection.
What Comes First? Global Perspective and African Experiences
Socio-economic change and human mobility are constantly interactive processes, so to ask whether migration or development comes first is nonsensical. Yet in both popular and political discourse it has become the conventional wisdom to argue that promoting economic development in the Global South has the potential to reduce migration to the North. This carries the clear implication that such migration is a bad thing, and poor people should stay put. This 'sedentary bias' is a continuation of colonial policies designed to mobilise labour for mines and plantations, while preventing permanent settlement in the cities. European policy-makers and academics are particularly concerned with flows from Africa, and measures taken by the European Union and its member states are often designed to reduce these - often in the guise of well-meaning development policies. By contrast, many migration scholars regard human mobility as a normal part of social transformation processes, and a way in which people can exercise agency to improve their livelihoods. This article examines these problems, first by providing a brief history of academic debates on international migration and development. It goes on to look at the politics of migration and development, using both EU policy and African approaches as examples. An alternative approach to migration and development is presented, based on a conceptual framework derived from the analysis of social transformation processes.
This thought piece reflects on the workings of modern migration through the prism of metabolism. It contends that the metabolic idiom productively underscores how migration as a process is enabled and evoked by particular flows of materials and energy and how the movement of migrants engenders social and environmental transformations.