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Session Overview
RN35_05b_P: Naming and Framing Migrants and Refugees - Processes of Inclusion and Exclusion II
Thursday, 31/Aug/2017:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Karin Peters, Wageningen University
Location: PC.3.20
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 3.

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Citizenship of young migrants: an ethnographic study in Belgium

Rachel Waerniers, Lesley Hustinx

Ghent University, Belgium

In Europe exclusionary discourses on migrants go along with inclusionary discourses emphasizing their vulnerability and conditional discourses pointing to their individual responsibility to integrate. These political discourses produce a complex and ambiguous enmeshment of political rationalities and concomitant categorizations of migrants, which go beyond the conventional deserving/undeserving binary. Yet little research so far has scrutinized this complexity, in particular from the perspective of the ‘lived experience’ of the migrants themselves. In this study, we start from the Foucauldian assumption that political discourse can be considered an instrument to govern marginal groups. Concentrating on the citizenship practices of migrants themselves, we aim to investigate how they react towards these discourses. We focus on young migrants who comprise a huge part of the current migration flow to Europe but are often disregarded during the asylum procedure of their parents and are frequently approached as vulnerable and politically mute, also in scientific research. To go beyond this reductive approach, we combined a discourse analysis of the migration policies in Belgium with an ethnographic study of a project of a Belgian NGO which aims to learn young refugees “to express their story”. In line with critical theories of citizenship we approach citizenship not solely as a legal status but also as a dynamic process of negotiating one’s belonging and identity within society. In this paper we provide insights in this process, by focusing in particular on young migrants’ identity work in relation to public discourses, revealing how they strategically adopt or resist categorizations.

Displaying displacement: Humanitarian representations of refugees' living environments in Europe and the world

Giorgos Kandylis

National Centre for Social Research, Greece

Shelter provision to refugees and internally displaced persons due to conflicts and disasters has been a crucial and controversial stake in the wider global international protection regime that has developed under the UN system since the early post-war era. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, asserts (UNHCR 2014) that refugees' access to secure settlements and shelters are parts of a 'holistic approach' that wishes to 'foster an integrated social and economic way of life' and is meant to apply both to refugee camps and 'out of camps' populations. This paper is about the visualization of refugees' shelters and settlements in photographic material included in official documents and web pages of the UNHCR and other organizations that participate in the humanitarian response to the current 'refugee crisis'.

Inspired by Ilana Feldman's (2015) suggestion to understand refugee camps as humanitarian, political and emotional spaces and to analyze the competition between these different kinds of represented refugee lives, I examine the appearances of refugees' settlements/shelters as places of humans in need, places of humans that claim and places of humans that feel. To do so, I apply a combination of visual content analysis and visual social semiotics methods, while published images are also juxtaposed to their textual framing. The outcome of the analysis is a summary of the ways refugees' living environments are either positively or negatively imagined by humanitarian actors, allowing for a comparison of different perspectives among the latter, as well as for a comparison of different approaches between European and non-European environments.

The local governance of immigration and asylum: policies of exclusion as a battleground.

Maurizio Ambrosini

university of Milan, Italy

The so-called refugee crisis in Europe has highlighted the importance of local societies and local governments for the reception of new immigrants.

The paper will focus the case of Northern Italy. Here many mayors, local governments and political actors have mobilized against the reception of asylum seekers, giving new salience to the concept of “local policies of exclusion”. The political debate in the last years has focussed mainly on the issue of asylum, obscuring the fact that many other immigrants settle and work in local societies, holding regular permits or not.

The paper would like to discuss: 1) how local policies frame asylum seekers and immigrants, in particular emphasizing the local dimension of political exclusion of immigrants: 2) how different types or migrants are actually categorized and received in local societies, 3) how different kinds of actors, native and coethnics, favour the settlement of different types of immigrants in local societies, often navigating and also circumventing policies of exclusion.

The governance of immigration, especially at local level, can be defined as a battleground, in which different actors take part, according with various economic interests, social bonds, moral values and political beliefs. The practical governance of immigration and asylum is influenced by these different interests and visions.

The paper is based on several years of studies on irregular immigration, asylum seekers and local policies.

The Migrant Body and What Makes It Strange(r)

Greti-Iulia Ivana

Uppsala University, Sweden

Globalization and global mobility have been vastly researched and discussed topics in sociology over the last half a century. The last decade has particularly seen an increased interest in micro level studies on the experience and meaning of global mobility for those who are living it first hand. The image of the well dressed, tech savvy and wealthy global elite has been questioned by rich ethnographic data on well educated travelers with insecure short-term jobs, as well as highly trained professionals who come from various class and ethnic backgrounds and are faced with a series of challenges in both their home countries and their adoptive ones. However, one of the issues which has drawn little attention in relation to highly skilled migration, is the construction of ”at homeness” (Ahmed 2000). Thus, focusing the case of highly skilled migrants in the Stockholm area, I will look into the experience of feeling at home and the ways in which it relates to recognizability. While these topics have been mostly important in theorizations of race, the body out of place, body consciousness and other indicators which make strangeness recognizable are fundamental for understanding processes of inclusion and exclusion of migrants beyond their physical features. Living in a new unfamiliar environment and the suspension of one’s feelings of at homeness in the world and in their own body are present for highly skilled migrants and the addition of this category of subjects allows us to problematize the relation of exclusion with ethnicity, gender and class belonging in new ways.

Naming emotion in an immigration office: the borders of empathy as the borders of national community

Kaja Skowronska

Sciences Po Paris, France

The agents of immigration-related “street-level bureaucracies” (Lipsky, 2010) can be seen as front-line gatekeepers. The work of those agents responsible for the implementation of legal provisions consists of daily application of categories to people through the granting (or refusal) of a status to individual immigrants. Besides the categories established by law, more subtle forms of categorization take place in the everyday contacts between the administration and its immigrant public. Emotion plays a crucial role in this process, both as a product of the interaction and as an object of interpretation. How the immigrant's emotion is read and what emotion their behavior produces in return will have a crucial impact on the treatment they receive.

This paper is based on a case study of one such local-level agency in Poland. A three-month long participant observation was conducted in the summer of 2014, later completed by a series of interviews with civil servants.

While the study was conducted before a significant rise in hostile attitudes towards foreigners could be noted in Poland in 2015, a careful examination of the role of emotions reveals a series of latent ideas and attitudes that can throw a light on those overt forms of enmity. Thus, the aim of this paper is to use a case study of a street-level bureaucracy to gain a better comprehension of the preconceptions present in everyday interactions between immigrants and administrative personnel, but also in society at large.

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