(Riga Stradiņš University)
Paper Short Abstract:
Through examining recent discourses in Latvia on the third country nationals this paper intends to tackle the paradox of highly discrepant frameworks in which various categories of immigrants are being dealt with.
Paper long abstract:
As a study on representations of migration in Latvia's mass media found, refugees were viewed as burden and threat in 2016 (Rožukalne et al 2017). Correspondingly, 78 per cent survey respondents wished Latvia accepted no refugees from Asia or Africa (SKDS, 2016). Such attitudes toward migration are often drawing on sentiments of cultural fundamentalism.
Dzenovska (2015) has analysed such sentiments in an effort to formulate an anthropologically grounded response to the commentaries in Western media accusing East Europeans of lacking moral maturity vis-à-vis refugee crisis. Among opinion leaders in Latvia, on the other hand, a consensus has been observed (ibid.) that a moral argument is not a valid argument because it insufficiently engages with the concrete political situation in the country.
Neither those who are in favour of providing asylum to refugees in Latvia, nor those who have objected such a policy, however, have drawn on a potentially crucial argument, namely, that a foresighted policy could turn the 'burden' into a resource, e.g. for labour supply and sustainability of the country's welfare system. Such an argument was advanced by two Canadian delegations to Riga in 2016-2017 but did not ignite wider debates. Only since mid-2017, the shortage of labour force in numerous companies has convincingly entered the country's political and media agenda.
Through examining recent discourses in Latvia on the third country nationals my paper intends to tackle the paradox of highly discrepant frameworks in which various categories of immigrants are being dealt with.
Human rights and political subjectivities in motion: migration, hyper-nationalism, and countervailing strategies