Accepted Paper:

The Deportation continuum: convergences between state-agents and NGO-workers in the Dutch deportation field  


Lieke Wissink (University of Amsterdam)
Barak Kalir (University of Amsterdam)

Paper short abstract:

Ethnographic fieldwork among bureaucrats and civil-society actors in the Dutch deportation field reveals converging practices in dealing with to-be-deported migrants and shared worldviews on borders and belonging. These hegemonic political subjectivities dismiss alternatives to deportation policies.

Paper long abstract:

In response to normalized practices of deportations of migrants in western liberal states, a solid field of those dealing with the to-be-deported migrants emerged in recent years. In the Netherlands, we conducted ethnographic fieldwork in this deportation field from January 2012 to October 2014 among two distinctive actors - NGO workers and state agents in detention centers - who face illegalized migrants in their daily work. An analysis of their experiences reveals significant convergences between both groups in: (1) usage of terminology and categories; (2) handling of face-to-face interactions with migrants; (3) worldviews on issues like borders, rights, and justice. Given these convergences, the social field in which deportation is being negotiated and practiced can be conceptualized as a deportation continuum, from state to civil society, where hegemonic ideas on the non-belongingness of migrants and the rightfulness of deportations prevail. These ideas and imaginaries legitimize the work of both actors, although their daily experience confronts them with a reality that undermines these imaginaries. The Dutch deportation continuum thus shows the workings of state power through a hegemonic political subjectivity. Consequently, deportations are diminishingly criticized by those who are considered as legitimate political actors. Substantial alternatives are dismissed as radical and the few actors proposing them, for example, the self-organized migrant groups in Amsterdam, are placed beyond the borders of legitimacy and are further marginalized from the dominant political framework.

Panel Mig004
Pursuing utopias/challenging realities: producing and resisting borders in and out of Europe