Accepted Paper:

Refugees in Tunisia: border perspectives on migration policies  

Author:

Valentina Grillo (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

Theories, methodology, and results of a fieldwork research on ‘migration management’ will be at the core of the present contribution. Refugees’ ‘border perspectives’ on the migration apparatus can, in particular, shed more light on the policies that international actors ‘exported’ to Tunisia.

Paper long abstract:

Political, military, geopolitical and strategic perspectives were provided exhaustively to analyse the 2011 Libyan war. However, this conflict was rarely presented in terms of people displacement. The subsequent displacement led to a considerable formulation of migration policies in the region and, in particular, Tunisia, one of the closest Arab countries to the European Union (EU) and the US. Anthropology does not only have the potential role to offer an interdisciplinary point of view on the matter, but to also combine it with border perspectives.

The present contribution will, firstly, present background theories. Then, it will outline the methodology that needed to be readapted to the challenging fieldwork conditions. Conducting research with refugees in Tunisia is one of them. Nevertheless, it will provide 'border perspectives' on power structures and, in particular, the 'migration apparatus' that was 'exported' to Tunisia. Finally, results and interpretations will be outlined with reference to the material collected during a three-month fieldwork in South Tunisia. The latter will focus on refugees' forms of reaction, but also on different notions of refuge. Refuge in terms of Tunisians' attitudes towards refugees will not necessarily involve nationality matters, but religious, linguistic, economic and socio-historical criteria. These border perspectives of people who participate in power systems as (1.) marginal actors from the global south, pave the way for further exploration of (2.) the dynamics of migration policies promotion against irregular migrations that, while based on neo-nationalist ideas within the EU, start (3.) from different premises when exported to countries, like Tunisia.

Panel P003
Anthropologists between the Middle East and Europe: war, crises, refugees, migration and Islamophobia [AMCE]