EASA2016: Anthropological legacies and human futures

(P111)
Mobilities, inequalities, power
Location U6-12
Date and Start Time 20 July, 2016 at 14:30
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Kristín Loftsdóttir (University of Iceland) email
  • Unnur Dís Skaptadóttir (University of Iceland) email
  • Brigitte Hipfl (Klagenfurt University) email

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Short Abstract

This panel looks at power in terms of how particular subjects are made 'possible' and gain legitimacy by asking how globalized inequalities in Europe produce and/or are contested by diverse forms of mobilities.

Long Abstract

With mobility becoming a key issue for anthropology in the present, it has become acute to understand how power runs through different ways of being mobile and discourses depicting mobilities. In Europe, the Schengen Agreement is for example predicated on categories of mobility that overlap with distinctions of geography and class (Garner 2007). Also, with asylum seekers and refugees taking the center stage in discussions about potential risks to the nation-state (Fassin 2011), the legal interpretation of these categories renders certain mobilities as 'illegal' while other types such as the tourist and the expatriate are welcomed and desired. In such light it can be asked to what extent migration in the present is linked to "the legacy of different colonial empires" (Ponzanezi 2002).

In this panel, we look at power in terms of how particular subjects are made 'possible' and how they gain legitimacy, by asking how globalized inequalities in Europe produce or are contested by diverse forms of mobilities. How is racism of the past evident in current flow of people, objects and ideas? What is the underlying logic of the current regulation of mobility in the EU? How are different kinds of migrants categorized in terms of their desirability or perceived ability to adapt or integrate and what are its temporal dimensions? In which ways does the entanglement of race, class and gender result in specific patterns of mobility? How are different lines of mobility entangled in different economic circuits?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Hierarchies of mobility in Polish migrants' identity narratives

Author: Anna Horolets (University of Gdańsk)  email

Short Abstract

Migrants create their own hierarchies of mobile subjects that can reinforce or contest mobility regimes. I suggest to study how contemporary Polish migrants in the U.S. address issues of "who has a right to be mobile" and “which mobility is socially acceptable” in their identity narratives.

Long Abstract

Contemporary migration and mobility regimes (Bigo 2002; Fassin 2011; Glick Schiller & Salazar 2013) create a set of subject positions that play an important role in keeping mobile populations under control. While Foucault's idea of disciplinary power (1975) sees the production of subjectivies as an efficient way of exercising power over individuals, it has also been criticized for being exaggeratedly deterministic (de Certeau 1984). The analysis of migrants' identity narratives (Kazmierska 2003) as articulations of their subjectivities can lead to a better understanding of the way mobility regimes operate at the level of individual. The inconsistencies and ambiguities in the ways hierarchies of mobile subjects are (re)produced in migrants' identity narratives can be particularly revealing.

In the proposed paper I rely on ethnographic material from the fieldwork that was carried out in 2014 among Polish migrants in Chicago. I aim at reconstructing the (multiple and contradictory) hierarchies of mobile subjects on the basis of migrants' identity narratives. My question is what role (1) different types of mobility (temporary/permanent; regular/irregular; migratory/tourist) as well as (2) gender, family status, life stage, occupation or race play in the construction of these hierarchies. Who has a right to be mobile? What type of mobility is socially and culturally acceptable from migrants' point of view? These subjective hierarchies are to be considered in the context of both the U.S. migration regime (De Genova 2005) and Polish tradition of narrating emigration.

Welcome mobilities: media representations of foreigners living in Croatia

Author: Petra Kelemen (University of Zagreb, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences)  email

Short Abstract

The aim of this paper is to analyse whether and how Croatian media tackle the issue of foreigners' class, race and nationality, and whether they sketch the picture of desirable and welcome foreigners whose inclusion is not questionable and who are seen as a welcome enrichment of the society.

Long Abstract

In this paper I will analyse how media representations portray foreigners living in Croatia and how they evaluate their presence in Croatian society. Foreigners in Croatia make less than 1% of the total population, which makes Croatian society rather homogeneous in comparisons to other European countries. I will pay attention to the ways Croatian media describe foreigners' migration trajectories and their stories of individual success or failure. Moreover, I will be interested in the question how the connection between individual well-being and development on the one hand, and economic, social and cultural change and development of the country on the other is constructed. I will examine how media describe and interpret foreigners' involvement in Croatian society, and how they depict various responses that Croatian society does or should offer when meeting with foreigners. I intend to focus on naming and qualifications attached to these people (are they named as foreigners, (im)migrants, economic migrants, highly skilled migrants, expatriates, etc.), as well as on comparisons made in the media (are they compared to other mobile individuals, e.g. asylum seekers and refugees, emigrants, tourists, etc.). My aim is to show whether and how Croatian media tackle the issues of foreigners' class, race and nationality, and in doing so whether they sketch the picture of desirable and welcome foreigners whose inclusion is not questionable and who are seen as a welcome enrichment of the society.

Exotic 'white' bodies: racialized images and tourist mobilities in Iceland

Author: Kristín Loftsdóttir (University of Iceland)  email

Short Abstract

In the current world of commercialized "ethnicities", Iceland is presented as an exotic destination but yet safe; similar to "us" while "peculiar." The paper shows tourism in Iceland a being based on mobilization of racist images rooted in colonial past.

Long Abstract

When compared to less privileged forms of mobilities, tourism inside and into Europe exposes clearly the global hierarchies that continue to be at play. The presentation focuses on how racist imaginaries rooted in the past are mobilized in tourism in Iceland, during times when racism is pushed further and further out of sight (Goldberg 2009) while it continues to shape the world in various ways. In the current world of commercialized "ethnicities"(Comaroff, 2009), where exoticism has become a valuable resource, Iceland has been presented as being simultaneously an exotic and safe destination; similar to "us" while "peculiar" in a global marketplace of nation branding. Icelandic tourism mobilities in the present reenact racist imagination of empty land and naive, strange natives. This particular nation branding rests on older articulation when during the late 19th and early 20th century Iceland's was simultaneously an object of colonialism and an active contributor to racialized and colonial discourses, attempting to distance itself from Iceland's persistent depiction in European sources as exotic and different. The presentation thus asks how Europe's troublesome past continues to haunt the present, characterized by racism, coloniality and devaluation of difference.

Mama Illegal: a cartography of precarious subjectivities of undocumented domestic workers

Author: Brigitte Hipfl (Klagenfurt University)  email

Short Abstract

In this presentation, the documentary film Mama Illegal (Austria 2011, Ed Moschitz) will be discussed as exemplary media coverage of the different dimensions of precarious subjectivities of women migrants caught in what Arlie Russell Hochschild calls the “global care chain”.

Long Abstract

In his film Mama Illegal (Austria 2011), Ed Moschitz documents seven years of the lives of three women, who left their family and kids due to extreme poverty and lack of perspectives in their Moldavian village to become undocumented domestic workers in Austria and Italy. Mobility in this film is deployed as an entanglement of refusing unbearable living conditions and the hope and pain connected with it, the exploitative conditions of women migrants who are caught in the "global care chain" (Arlie Russell Hochschild) and the emerging subject formations and processes of becoming. The mapping of the precarious subject positions in Mama Illegal gives insights into historically specific, localized formations of the figuration of contemporary subjectivity that Rosi Braidotti (1994), following Deleuze, calls the nomadic subject. The presentation will juxtapose the cartography of precarious subjectivities of undocumented domestic workers in the film with the portrayals of migrants in Austrian mainstream media, focusing on the social and political effects of the different modulations of affect.

Mobile lives, immutable facts: the quest for truth in family reunification

Author: Anna-Maria Tapaninen (University of Eastern Finland)  email

Short Abstract

This paper discusses the making of facts in family reunification procedures in Finland. In lieu of credible documents, many applicants have to convince the authorities through details of family life and the results of DNA analysis. The most disadvantaged of applicants are suspect and easily excluded.

Long Abstract

This paper looks at family reunification in Finland on the basis of interviews and court decisions. Family reunification has formed a major "channel" for legal entry into Europe. The admissibility of families is contingent on their resources and on varying categories of eligibility, and the techniques of proof themselves create differences between applicants. Documents, the minutiae of narratives and DNA analysis are intertwined as evidence that can establish or refute the claims presented. The routine use of the biotechnological tools of DNA profiling and medical age assessment creates an illusion of precision and objectivity. The details of family life are made into facts, "averaged out" or "made flat": they are treated as immutable mobiles (Latour 1986). This quest for truth brings into view a pivotal paradox: the assumption of immutability and permanence of true families stands in stark contrast to the world of forced mobility and insecurity. The complexities of mutable forms of relatedness in the conflict-ridden zones of the world easily become the basis for exclusion. DNA profiling targets the most disadvantaged of applicants, especially the ones with a refugee background, who lack credible documents and whose family life is suspect because of its strangeness. Hence, all families are not worthy of protection "by society and the State", to quote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Fear frustration and the third man or woman: how visa agents smooth away mobility wrinkles in London embassies

Author: Cy Elliott-Smith (Goldsmiths)  email

Short Abstract

This paper is on distortions present in bureaucratic border control mechanisms regarding visa applications and the brokering role of the 'visa agent' in negotiating relationships and identities between border regime gatekeepers and visa applicants.

Long Abstract

Increasingly visa application procedures involve the negation of personhood by state bureaucracies. Certain characteristics such as job, religion or race are overtly or covertly deemed undesirable by certain states and the nature of exclusion is increasingly opaque.

The unique position of the visa agent helps mediate this; they have a better view of this field of operations and understand the process of 'smoothing out' characteristics that may fall into or between categories of exclusion. Agents make the reasons for their client's visa application intelligible to both the visa bureaucracy and the client by providing a human face for the client and systematic and rationalized face to the border bureaucracy.

Many of these visa agents/agencies are former employee's or affiliates of embassies and clients opt to use their services out of convenience and out of fear and frustration. The increasing complications presented to applicants by the growth of border control technologies, the changing nature and role of agents in both being able to negotiate and profit by the new combinations of tech based bureaucracy is of increasingly fine margins. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in London, I will show some of the more Kafkaesque occurrences that take place even for relatively privileged visa applicants. Highlighting the inequalities and unconscious and irrational biases present in a series of heavily rationalized border control systems, crossing borders requires remaking the subject as desirable and comprehensible in order to fit a shifting bureaucratic criteria 'window' as policies change in the face of global events.

Complex inequalities in local and global context: Filipino's experiences of migration to Iceland

Author: Unnur Dís Skaptadóttir (University of Iceland)  email

Short Abstract

The paper examines the experiences and position of Filipinos in Iceland in a local and global context. It shows how processes of racialization as well as gendered and ethnic categorizations affect their experiences and their strategies when settling in Iceland.

Long Abstract

The ability of individuals to move across borders differs greatly in a world characterized by inequality and a gendered division of labor. These inequalities affect people's abilities to migrate as well as their prospects in the destination country. The paper examines the migration of Filipinos to Iceland. It depicts the barriers they face, such as legal and regulatory hindrances, as well as limitations in terms of the kinds of jobs that are available for them upon arrival. The paper shows how migration for the reasons of marriage, family reunion and work are not always easily dismantled in their narratives and that their experiences are contradictory. This is a migration trajectory that sheds light racialization processes as well as on the gendered and ethnic related processes of global restructurings (Marchand & Runyan 2010; Glick Schiller 2010). The discussion is based upon the findings of ethnographic research in Iceland and the Philippines. Applying a multi sited ethnography and transnational perspective it focuses on the different conditions that affect people's migration options as well as their views towards their work and migration.

Queer migrants in Iceland from the Global South

Authors: Linda Sólveigar Guðmundsdóttir (University of Iceland)  email
Unnur Dís Skaptadóttir (University of Iceland)  email

Short Abstract

This paper examines the experiences of queer migrants from the Global South, with regards to the challenges and opportunities they encounter in the Icelandic context as well as their sens of bonging and exclusion.

Long Abstract

This paper examines queer migrants' experiences of living in Iceland, with a focus on queer migrants from the Global South. Significant legal advancements have taken place in Iceland in recent decades regarding queer people and general attitudes towards same-sex sexualities have also improved quite extensively. At the same time, the number of international migrants who have taken up residence in Iceland has increased considerably, while the dominant outlook towards immigrants is still frequently based on nationalistic notions. Furthermore, since 2006 it has been almost impossible for people from outside of EEA to enter Iceland for the purpose of work except as specialists. The paper applies theories of belonging to examine upon queer migrants' subject-positions in society and theories of racialisation to query on how migrants may experience exclusion and 'foreignism'. Participants in the study are individuals of various national origins who identify themselves as having same-sex sexualities and are first generation migrants from the Global South living in Iceland. The findings show how queer migrants employ transnational practises and how they have experienced exclusion and belonging in the past and at present date. Moreover, they show how living in a society such as the Icelandic one, can open up for new paths and practices in regard to participants' sexual orientation.

Permanence pending: how Chinese temporary migrants hope to stay in the UK through relationships with permanent residents

Author: Hiu Yan Yu (University of Edinburgh)  email

Short Abstract

The paper looks into why the formation of a relationship with a British or EU partner is considered as the most promising way for young, highly educated, lower-middle class Chinese temporary migrants to lengthen their stay and obtain higher flexibility in their choices of place of residence.

Long Abstract

The paper aims to investigate the ways in which Chinese "would-be-permanent migrants" from a relatively high socioeconomic background hope to stay in the UK for as long as they like. They are mostly students, temporary workers and working-holiday makers. They seek to explore the possibilities and constraints of achieving the goal on a daily basis by taking such steps as looking for sponsored-visa employment, or forming a relationship with a permanent resident.

The study examines how migrants' lives are affected during the limited time remaining on their temporary visa by the need to conduct careful planning and calculation. It also analyses how everyday forms of sexual exchange through romantic and more instrumental relationships with British permanent residents, and the complex emotions associated with this, greatly shape and constitute their experiences.

In addition, this paper aims to provide a counter-narrative to previous studies of sexual exploitation discourse under the framework of transnational migration, which focuses on the victimhood of migrants. In contrast, I hope to address the sexual agency of Chinese migrants, and to study how sex and "love" are used as strategic tool to achieve the means to an end. I argue that the "manipulation" of sexual relationships is very often situational without being limited to sex workers or those from a lower socio-economic background, and should be understood within the webs of gender-and-ethnic based inequality; power imbalance; and social class difference in the context of Chinese migrants and their partners in the UK.

Strategies and tactics to gain access to health care and social welfare of marginalized people from Central and Eastern Europe living with HIV/AIDS in Berlin

Author: Pawel Lewicki (Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder))  email

Short Abstract

Marginalized and migrating people living with HIV/AIDS from Central and Eastern Europe in Berlin manage different elements of their subjectivity in order to access health and “good life”. I show how these practices reveal imperial dynamics in health and social/labor policies of the German state.

Long Abstract

Since decades Berlin enjoys a reputation of particularly liberal and tolerant space, not least for all kinds of gender and sexual identities. Such reputation, apart from attracting white middle-class homosexuals from Western Europe and North America seeking sex, appeals to marginalized sexual and gender minorities from all over the world, and - due to proximity - particularly to those from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and from the new member states (NMS) of the EU. Based on ethnographic research on trajectories of marginalized people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) from CEE and the NMS who seek help at an anti-HIV organization in Berlin, I show an (European) imperial dynamic (Stoler 2011) that becomes visible both in everyday struggles over access to health and social welfare of marginalized PLWHA and in their imaginations about living in "the West". I focus on interplay of race, class, gender, sexuality and health/legal status in order to show different strategies and tactics of subjectification beyond national and EU borders. These managements of identities should enable survival and "livable life" in conditions of marginalization and precarity in Berlin. They reveal not only different and overlapping forms of "normalization" and discrimination of migrants but also various coalitions and subversions against the reproduction of global, post-imperial inequalities inscribed in health and social/labor policies of the German state.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.