De-exceptionalising displacement in times of crisis
Georgina Ramsay (University of Delaware )
Heath Cabot (University of Pittsburgh)
Henrik Vigh (University of Copenhagen)
Horsal 9 (D9)
Friday 17 August, 9:00-10:45, 11:15-13:00 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

The label of "crisis" has solidified representations of the "refugee" as an exceptional category of person. In this panel we seek to de-exceptionalize displacement by considering how it is experienced across, and implicated in reconfigurations of, categories of citizen, refugee, migrant, other.

Long abstract:

The rising number of people undertaking often-dangerous border crossings has been labelled by national governments, global media, and scholars alike a migration "crisis." Crisis language—its ahistorical tendencies, and its focus on urgency and intervention (Roitman 2013)—exceptionalizes migration as an urgent problem to be solved, making it easy to overlook the varied and contradictory ways in which migrants are represented, and in which migration is actually experienced. Further, such framing produces the "refugee" or "migrant" as a state of exception, as the antithesis to the figure of the citizen, often eliding modes of displacement, precaritization, and struggle that may be chronic (Vigh 2008), normalized, and perhaps even banal. In this panel we seek to move beyond such binaries to ask how categories of citizenship, and civic and political in- and exclusion, are being reconfigured. We consider that, in treating particular categories of politico-legal identification, such as the "refugee," as self-evident, scholars may risk overlooking and obscuring how the forces of precaritisation that contribute to displacement are experienced more broadly. In a period in which precarity may have become an increasingly pervasive context of everyday life for people across the globe (Allison 2012; Butler 2006; Hinkson 2017; Tsing 2015), de-exceptionalising displacement can be a way to consider forced migration not as an isolated problem that demands analytical attention and dedicated solutions, but as a product of broader and more globalised forces that may connect the experiences of people across politico-legal categories of identification.