Short-term bureaucrats and flexible asylum seekers: forced precarity, affect and responsibility in the Italian asylum system
(University of Trento)
Paper short abstract:
This paper seeks to explore the multiple and contrasting effects of ‘forced precarity’, understood as a dominating idiom in the relations between the emerging figures of the ‘short-term bureaucrat’ and the ‘flexible asylum seeker’ in contemporary Italy.
Paper long abstract:
This paper addresses the dominant presence of the idiom of 'precarity', as a material condition and as an affective disposition, in the asylum-related bureaucratic work in contemporary Italy. The recent transformations of the Italian welfare system dictate new precarious and uncertain positions not only for asylum seekers, but also for bureaucrats and social workers, who find themselves forced to accept increasingly dispossessed working conditions. This pervading scenario of 'precarity' informs the relations between street-level bureaucrats and asylum seekers, assembling in unexpected and contradictory ways the ethics and emotions entangled in these institutional encounters. Drawing from an ethnographic research carried out in the city of Bologna, this paper seeks to explore perceptions, affects and dilemmas of social actors involved in these processes, as well as the divergent, unbalanced and contrasted effects of the neoliberal restructuring of contemporary welfare systems.
Forced collaborations: collective responsibility and unequal sacrifice in a Europe in crisis