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P025


Un/doing the de-exceptionalisation of refugees and migrants 
Convenors:
Usman Mahar (University of St. Gallen)
Martin Sökefeld (LMU Munich)
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Discussant:
Sabine Strasser (University of Bern)
Formats:
Panel
Mode:
Face-to-face

Short Abstract:

We wish to engage with the dilemmas of de-migranticising migration studies and de-exceptionalising migrants more generally: How can migration research avoid the pitfalls of migranticisation and exceptionalisation yet point to lived differences created by the state between citizens and migrants?

Long Abstract:

Calls for seeing migration as “autonomous” and the “de-migranticisation” of migration studies or undoing the essentialising and exceptionalising of migrants and refugees have been voiced for some time. Such calls rightly aver that migration studies reproduce and normalise categories derived from a statist perspective. While we fully agree with emphasising the autonomy of migration (AoM) and the various strategies to de-exceptionalise migration, from differentiating analytical and discursive categories to not making migrants the unit of analysis, we contend that such efforts do not result in the de-exceptionalisation of migrants and refugees in their daily lives and social positions in a bordered world of nation-states. Moreover, not poignantly differentiating irregularised migrants and refugees from citizens in our research runs the danger of eclipsing the powerful mechanisms of states that strictly limit their agency by not allowing people to work or placing them under severely restrictive conditions. What might be obscured is the fundamental difference that the nation-state system creates between citizens and refugees/migrants. This difference becomes most apparent in people’s deportability: Since citizens cannot be forcibly removed, subjects of removal are solely non-citizens. (Irregularised and criminalised) migrants, by default, become the unit of analysis in research on phenomena such as deportation and removal. Thus, we ask how far can “doing” AoM and “undoing” migranticisation go without obscuring the exceptional power of the state? We call for papers that address the double-edged swords of autonomous and de-exceptionalised migration at conceptual, ethnographic, ethical and political levels to tease out what they un/do.

Accepted papers:

Session 1
Session 2