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Love, Motherhood and Migration

Regulating Migrant Women's Sexualities in the Persian Gulf

Pardis Mahdavi

This article looks at the confluence of love, labour and the law by focusing on the regulation of migrant women's sexualities in the Gulf Coast Cooperation countries of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. Migrant women increasingly comprise the majority of migrants to the region as the demand for intimate labour in the Persian Gulf is on the rise. But migrant women who become pregnant while in the Persian Gulf are immediately imprisoned and charged with the crime of zina. These women give birth while incarcerated and spend up to a year with their babies in prison. They are then forcibly separated from their children when they are deported, rendering the children stateless in the host country. Migrant women who are often brought to the Persian Gulf to perform (re)productive labour are seen as immoral if they engage in sexual activities during their time in the Persian Gulf (and this is written into their contracts), and thus are seen as unfit to parent their own children. Some migrant women have recently been protesting these laws by refusing and fighting deportation without their children. This article contrasts discourses about migrant women's sexuality and legal analysis with the lived experiences of selected migrant women and their children through ethnographic research conducted in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait City between 2008 and 2014.

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Dennis Klein

In July 2012, President of France François Hollande recalled the Vel d’Hiv roundup seventy years earlier. He opened his commemorative speech with the usual reference to the “horror of a crime” and used the familiar expression of the “sorrow of those who experienced the tragedy.” What stood out, however, were his allusions to the violation of France’s, and by extension Europe’s, social contract with its Jews. The men, women, and children who were assembled for internment and deportation “could not have known the fate that awaited them.” They believed that the ties that united “the great French family [were] too strong,” he said, quoting a distinguished rabbi just after the 1940 decree depriving Jews of their citizenship, too self-evident “to be broken.” President Hollande then struck the memorable chord: “Therein lies the betrayal.”

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Ruth Klüger

Reflections on Auschwitz

Birgit Maier-Katkin

Austrian-born Ruth Klüger was a teenager when she and her mother were deported first to the concentration camp at Theresienstadt, then to Auschwitz, and later to Christianstadt. This article examines Klüger's memoir weiter leben in which she records her memories and assessments of her experience in these concentration camps. It considers her critical stance toward the postwar Holocaust memory culture and focuses on Klüger's relationship with German thought and language. In particular, during her imprisonment in Auschwitz, German poetry played an important role in her survival. This offers new insight into Theodor Adorno's statement (which he later retracted) that “Writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.“ As questions about German identity are raised, this article suggests a discourse about the Holocaust from within German culture and points to questions about the intricate relationship of a shared cultural background between victim and perpetrator.

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“My Visa Application Was Denied, I Decided to Go Anyway”

Interpreting, Experiencing, and Contesting Visa Policies and the (Im)mobility Regime in Algeria

Farida Souiah

This article explores the ways people targeted by restrictive migration and mobility policies in Algeria experience, interpret, and contest them. It focuses on the perspective of harragas, literally “those who burn” the borders. In the Maghrebi dialects, this is notably how people leaving without documentation are referred to. It reflects the fact that they do not respect the mandatory steps for legal departure. Also, they figuratively “burn” their papers to avoid deportation once in Europe. Drawing on qualitative fieldwork, this article outlines the complex and ambiguous attitudes toward the legal mobility regime of those it aims to exclude: compliance, deception, delegitimization, and defiance. It contributes to debates about human experiences of borders and inequality in mobility regimes. It helps deepen knowledge on why restrictive migration and mobility policies fail and are often counterproductive, encouraging the undocumented migration they were meant to deter.

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The sanctioning state

Official permissiveness and prohibition in India

Ajay Gandhi

This article examines the Indian state’s engagement with deportable foreign migrants. It draws on an ethnography of officials’ responses in Mumbai to noncitizens from Bangladesh and countries in Africa. The conceptual focus is on the “sanctioning state”: official powers that alternately permit or prohibit migrants’ presence. At one level, the Indian state sanctions, or prohibits, unauthorized migration. Simultaneously, via authorities’ discretionary power, the state can sanction, or permit, foreigners’ presence. To address why state actors simultaneously sanction migrants’ enduring presence, and also sanction their intermittent removal, this article delves into the Indian state’s historical evolution and everyday functioning. The domains of bureaucratic practice, discretionary authority, and differentiated citizenship are framed by antecedent logics. This historical survey undergirds an ethnographic study of the state in migrant-saturated neighborhoods in Mumbai. Based on interviews and observations with officials and migrants, this article elucidates the rationales, capacities, and strategies that comprise the “sanctioning state.”

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Available in Hell

Germaine Tillion's Operetta of Resistance at Ravensbrück

Donald Reid

Pierre Vidal-Naquet called the three studies resister Germaine Tillion had published in 1946, 1973, and 1988, on the concentration camp to which she had been sent, her “three Ravensbrücks.”4 Although resistance is important in each, these works focus primarily on the relation of exploitation to extermination in the camps. There is, however, a first, or perhaps a fourth, “Ravensbrück,” which is neither a memoir nor a history like the other three. In it, the state of resistance in which Tillion lived her deportation comes to the fore. Inspired by Jacques Offenbach’s L’Orphée aux Enfers, Tillion wrote Le Verfügbar aux Enfers in late 1944 at Ravenbrück, after having spent a year incarcerated there. Like David Rousset’s frequent reference to Père Ubu in L’Univers concentrationnaire (1946), his essay on Buchenwald, Tillion’s operetta reminds us that the genres we usually call on to present the horrific in the normal world may be lacking when the horrific is the norm.

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Remembering and Forgetting in Contemporary France

Napoleon, Slavery, and the French History Wars

Philip Dwyer

On the front cover of Claude Ribbe’s Le Crime de Napoléon is a photograph of Hitler surrounded by a bevy of generals looking down at the tomb of Napoleon at the Invalides during his visit there after the fall of France in 1940. The message is clear: the author is thus directly associating Napoleon with Hitler and, as we shall see as Ribbe develops his argument, with the Holocaust. Napoleon, Ribbe claims, is guilty of a “triple crime” against humanity: the reintroduction of slavery in 1802; the deportation and killing of large numbers of Africans (or people of African origin); and the massacre of blacks that took on a “genocidal nature” and that prefigured the policy of racial extermination carried out by the Nazis during the Second World War (12 13). “Le crime est si impardonnable”, writes Ribbe, “qu’il a provoqué plus de deux siècles de mensonges. Car les faits sont bien connus des historiens, mais volontairement passés sous silence” (13).

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Before The Human Race

Robert Antelme's Anthropomorphic Poetry

Sara Guyer

In the Spring of 1944, one month before the Gestapo arrested him, sending him first to the prison at Fresnes and then deporting him to Buchenwald and Dachau, Robert Antelme published four poems in Littérature, a newly inaugurated – and ultimately short-lived – literary journal. The journal, which appeared only in that year, aimed to present the work of young French writers. As the editor, René Julliard explains in a preface to the first issue, Littérature did not represent a particular ‘school’, and authors were not bound by restrictions of page numbers or genre. In each issue – which included poems, stories, plays, and essays – the contributions were organized alphabetically, according to the author’s name.

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'The poet remained alone amidst the corpses of words . . .'

The Deportation Poetry of André Ulmann and Maurice Honel

Gary D. Mole

In an article entitled ‘Témoignage du camp et poésie’, published in 1948, the former deportee Robert Antelme, author of the now classic deportation text L’Espèce humaine, identifies what he sees as the respective problems of prose and poetic testimonies. The prose account, claims Antelme, in its supposed stark objectivity, all too often reads like some abstract accusatory act, a photograph that may provoke fear and trembling, but from which lessons cannot be explicitly learnt. Poetry, on the other hand, would run the risk of fleeing the reality of the camps, of allowing it to be only glimpsed through melodic counterpoint or nostalgic themes, thus enveloping the reality in a mist of words but never really penetrating it. In fleeing prosaic description, then, poetry would risk falling into obscurity.

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Living with Uncertainty

Indefinite Immigration Detention

Melanie Griffiths

Immigration detention is a central tenet of the British government’s response to immigration but remains under-theorised in academia. This article uses testimonies drawn from anthropological research conducted with detainees at an Immigration Removal Centre to examine lived experiences of immigration detention and explore the relationships between detainees and the British state. It suggests that despite being a space of extreme control (both in terms of legislation and daily practice), immigration detention is beset with uncertainty and confusion. Examples are given of chronic instability in relation to mobility, violent ‘incidents’, time frames and access to information. The article examines the repercussions of such instability on individuals and coping strategies employed. It argues that immigration detainees live in a context of continual crisis, in which profound uncertainty becomes normalised. This disorder should be understood as a technique of power, with governance through uncertainty constructing certain immigrants as expendable, transient and ultimately, deportable.