Accepted paper:

Paradoxes of lighter ID controls in the context of Brexit


Djordje Sredanovic (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

Starting from fieldwork with institutions involved in citizenship procedures, EU27 citizens and Britons in the UK and Belgium, I show paradoxical situations in which being subject to lighter migration and ID controls can cause vulnerability.

Paper long abstract:

In this presentation I explore the registration and identification processes, through which IDs are produced, as both a repressive form of population management and as creation of formal identities that are useful for those holding them. In particular, starting from fieldwork with institutions involved in citizenship procedures in the UK and Belgium, and with EU27 citizens in the UK and Britons in Belgium, I explore the paradoxical cases in which being subject to lighter forms of migration control can become a source of vulnerability. EU27 citizens in the UK, if compared to non-EU migrants, have been exempt from migration control procedures, including visas and passport stamping. With Brexit and the increased interest in British citizenship, EU27 citizens discovered that these advantages make it harder to prove physical and legal residence in the UK for permanent residence and naturalisation purposes. Further, the relatively simplified settled status procedure has created anxieties about both the dematerialised nature of the procedure and the lack of physical ID proving the status. At the same time, the British personnel of the EU institutions in Belgium has enjoy an entitlement to quasi-diplomatic IDs, but discovered that residence based on such documents does not count towards the Belgian naturalisation requirements, a situation that created anxieties with the Brexit process going on. Comparing the fieldwork data with other cases (the Windrush scandal, US citizens without IDs) I argue that being exempt from applying for and holding IDs creates vulnerabilities in increasingly ID-centric Global North states.

panel B04
The production, uses and meaning of identity documents for people on the move