Accepted paper:

Racializing Migrancy: Genealogies of Managing Mobility in Germany and Its Colonies


Michelle Pfeifer (New York University )

Paper short abstract:

By reading together the contemporary administration of asylum cases in Germany and the introduction of a centralized passport system in German South-West Africa this paper analyzes how contemporary and colonial mobility management produce migrancy and Europe as distinctly racialized phenomena.

Paper long abstract:

This paper analyzes how colonial and contemporary mobility management dramatize the organization of belonging in Europe. Focusing on two scenes from the German context I illustrate how Europe captures and produces migrancy as a racialized practice distinct from Europe. I ask: how does the mobility management function to distinguish between Europe and migrancy? How can a colonial genealogy reveal the intimacy between migrancy and Europe that technocratic rationalities attempt to distinguish? First, I analyze the use of biometric technologies in the administration of asylum cases in Germany that intend to detect ethnic origin. Drawing on institutional memos and materials provided by migrants' rights NGOs I show how how migrancy is produced through the adjudication of belonging in Europe. Second, I read this contemporary administration of migration within a lineage of German colonial projects of controlling the movement of colonized populations. I analyze how colonial subjects were made legible and identifiable through analyzing the introduction of the legal responsibility for indigenous populations to carry identification in German South-West Africa. Through my analysis of colonial and contemporary forms of regulating the mobility of colonial and migrant populations and the technological and technocratic systems that dramatize that regulation I show that the the production of European space, subjectivity, and territory must be understood through the practices that racialize migrancy. Specifically, racializing technologies' function to make the body legible and visible is steeped in the genealogy of colonial control of populations and inform the management of migrancy in Europe in the present.

panel P151
Migrantizing Europe