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Accepted paper:

Challenging borders: mobilities and activist solidarity with asylum seekers in Europe


Dora Rebelo (CRIA IUL-ISCTE)

Paper short abstract:

As a response to the alleged "refugee crisis", several initiatives of informal solidarity and activism were combined, trying to overcome two challenges: 1) assure basic support to mobile asylum seekers in host communities and 2) resisting the repression posed by local, national and European policies

Paper long abstract:

The relationships established between activists and mobile asylum seekers in host communities gave rise to new strategies of collaboration, agency and knowledge sharing across borders. Asylum seekers on the move helped to create a new brand of mobile activists who help them establish informal support networks across borders, as an alternative to the ineffective national-based social protection institutions. Civil society activists have been using their freedom of movement and their language skills to provide assistance to asylum seekers on the move. Mobile activism has been crucial in supporting asylum seekers to access legal advice across borders, to access educational infrastructures, food, healthcare and even informal livelihoods. Be it through formal associations created to that effect or through solidarity platforms connected by social media, mobile actors are regarded by their help recipients as a vital source of encouragement to pursue their life choices while being informed of the possibilities and limitations across European countries. The motivations of mobile activists vary, depending on the ethical positioning they assume, and the moral negotiations made in the spaces and time during which they interact. For some people, supporting others serves a purpose of fulfillment or a way to meet personal goals (to gain experience, social mobility, influence, knowledge, etc). For others, it serves a clear political purpose, such as opposing the policies of their own State, as well as the national and European populist trends. There are many intersubjectivities between mobile actors, and the nuances can only be perceived as these relationships develop.

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Helping in an era of hostility: Political agency and moral contestations in civil society movements for and by migrants