Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
RN35_01c: The Local Production of Borders
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Margit Fauser, Bielefeld
Location: BS.G.33
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Ground Floor Oxford Road

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Deciding To Detain: Border Practices Of Cantonal Street-Level Bureaucrats

Christin Achermann, Jonathan Miaz

nccr-on the move, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland

State borders are enacted, performed and reproduced at a variety of levels and sites. Contrary to control and enforcement at the territorial borders of states or supra-state entities such as the EU, this paper is interested in the barriers that are built within nation-states in order to make unwanted migrants leave their territories. We analyse the way cantonal immigration bureaucrats in Switzerland decide when and for whom administrative detention shall be used in order to “facilitate” the enforcement of a removal order. Thereby, we are interested in understanding the very different uses of this coercive measures by the cantons and, more specifically, by the individual street-level bureaucrats in charge of taking the respective decisions.

Our paper contributes to the analysis of the specific practices of creating barriers and spatially excluding unwanted migrants. Focusing on the differentiated uses of this extremely invasive legal measure by immigration bureaucrats, we analyze their collective and individual room for maneuver and the different rationales and hierarchies of criteria that structure the decision-making and the implementation of the federal legal grounds.

Our analysis relies on qualitative in-depth interviews conducted in 2017 and 2018 with immigration bureaucrats in several Swiss cantons who decide whether or not to deprive of their liberty foreign nationals who are not or no longer allowed to stay in the country. These data are completed by quantitative data on the detention of foreign nationals in Switzerland, illustrating the cantonal differences.

Repercussions of Borders and Boundaries in the Everyday Lives of Afghan Refugees in Switzerland

Carolin Fischer, Anna Wyss

Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland

This presentation explores how and with what effects global social inequalities and dynamics of marginalisation and exclusion manifest themselves in the everyday lives of Afghan refugees in Switzerland. We combine theories of boundary work with insights from border studies to examine experiences, practices and politics of inclusion and exclusion in different settings of refugee arrival and settlement. A focus on gender and its intersection with other categories of difference lends itself to illuminating the links and discontinuities between territorial borders and social boundaries and their everyday manifestations and effects. We draw on qualitative empirical research on the experiences of recently arrived Afghan refugees in Switzerland. Based on our emerging findings, we will make three points. First, the everyday lives of Afghan refugees in Switzerland are marked by tensions between exclusion and dependency. These are, for example, reflected in the pressure to ‘integrate’ and participants’ feelings of responsibility towards their families in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Second, a focus on gender helps illuminate how borders and boundaries contribute to shaping the specific situations of our research participants. Precariousness combined with the effects of hostile public representations evoke gender-specific vulnerabilities. In addition, negative representations provide fertile ground for more restrictive policies and more precarious living conditions. Third and more generally, our findings underline the importance of situating very concrete experiences of inclusion and exclusion in a broader context of global inequalities.

Building Boundaries at the Border. Neighborhood Practices, Inhabitants' Mobilizations and Ethno-racial Categorization in the Border-town of Ventimiglia

Daniela Trucco

University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, France

Borders and boundaries are witnessing a regain of interest within the sociology of migration and ethno-racial relations, both in terms of field research and efforts of conceptualization (Lamon & Molnar 2002, Mezzadra 2004, Fassin 2011, Tassin 2013, Fauser 2017).

In this paper, drawn on an ongoing (started 2015) ethnographic research in the border-town of Ventimiglia (Italy) mixing observation and in-deep interviews, I investigate on the two distinguished dimensions of borders and boundaries, as well as on their interrelation.

After French authorities strengthened border control and rejections practices in 2015, the presence of migrants in transit on the urban territory of Ventimiglia became longer, more visible and more precarious as well. As a consequence, informal shelters, squats and camps multiplied at the same time as local authorities, on the one hand, and activists on the other hand, tried to organize migrants’ stay in town and supply at their fundamental needs (see Trucco 2016 and 2018).

In this context, the paper will focus on: (1) the use and the construction of ethno-racial categories by different kind of actors and within different milieu (shelters’ neighbors, volunteers, NGOs operators, inhabitants’ spokespersons, town councilors, local media) and (2) on the practices (changes in commuting habits, avoiding of particular places or times in one’s displacements in town) and objects (barriers, protections, fences) introduced to ‘put distance in the proximity’, in order to enlighten (3) the bonds and articulations between the two (how categorization justify or reinforce separation claims or practices and the other way round).

The Obligation to Learn as a Disadvantage for (Some) Family Migrants in Germany? Differential Integration Requirements as Symbolic Boundaries

Chieh Hsu

Heidelberg University, Germany

The German Residence Act requires third-country family migrants to prove basic German proficiency before entry and stipulates their attendance in integration courses after arrival. Previous comparative research on European integration policies, focusing primarily on pre-entry tests, suggest that these mechanisms, though framed as measures to assist family migrant’s integration in the host country, were envisioned and implemented to stem the flow of migration through self-selection. A problem less identified, nevertheless, is how the eligibility, entitlement, or obligation to participate in these practices differs along family migrants’ nationality lines and their partner’s citizenship status. Inspired by the versatility of Althusser’s concept of “interpellation” in understanding the broad relationship between the state and its “subjects,” this paper further incorporates theories of symbolic boundaries and offers a critical reflection of Germany’s integration measures targeting family migrants and their unintended boundary-drawing effects. As the state has the authority to impose differential integration requirements based on arbitrary criteria, it simultaneously demarcates groups of family migrants and subjugates some groups more than others to integration schemes. I argue that the obligation to learn German in order to “integrate” becomes a disadvantage that stratifies third-country family migrants, since the same category of migrants are confronted with disparate pre-entry and post-arrival integration policies. Beyond the obvious result of these explicit, artificially and institutionally induced boundaries, such discrepancies in integration policies could also greatly impact family migrants’ long term trajectory of integration.