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Accepted paper:

Resisting Bare Life. Civil solidarity and the hunt for illegalised migrants.

Author:

Robin Vandevoordt (Ghent University)

Paper short abstract:

Focusing on the particular case of Belgium, this paper documents how its Federal government has increasingly tried to 'police' migrants into the European refugee regime, while migrants and citizens have continued to resist these efforts through a series of 'political' actions.

Paper long abstract:

While European governments have pursued illegalised migrants for decades, the techniques through which they do so have taken a more radical turn since 2015. Focusing on the particular case of Belgium, this paper documents how its Federal government has increasingly tried to 'police' migrants into the European refugee regime, while migrants and citizens have continued to resist these efforts through a series of 'political' actions. Drawing on ethnographic work with the Brussels-based Citizen Platform for the Support of Refugees, I pursue two aims. First, I demonstrate how Belgian state actors have partially produced a humanitarian crisis as part of a broader "politics of exhaustion". Second, I explore the specific forms and types of humanitarian action that emerge from citizens' response to these policies. I do so by describing three moments in which these opposing logics of policing and politicisation conjure.

panel AA12
Helping in an era of hostility: Political agency and moral contestations in civil society movements for and by migrants