EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W054)

Understanding Mediterranean transit migration

Location Arts Classhall H
Date and Start Time 25 Aug, 2010 at 11:30

Convenors

William Kavanagh (CEU San Pablo University, Madrid) email
Jutta Lauth Bacas email
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Long Abstract

One response to global crisis is the decision to migrate or attempt to seek refuge across national borders, in many cases without authorisation and without the necessary travel documents. Currently, a global trend of south-north irregular migration can be observed, especially strong in present cross-Mediterranean migration. Attempts to map transit migration in the Mediterranean area identify typical routes in the west (between Morocco and Spain), in the centre (between Libya and Italy) and in the east (between Turkey and Greece). Whereas these typical routes of clandestine migration across the Mediterranean Sea are quite well documented, a clearer understanding of the social dimension of this irregular transit migration is still lacking. Little is known about the social profile of irregular migrants arriving at various European shores, of their gender or age composition, their motives for migrating and especially their often traumatic experiences of clandestine border crossing. Furthermore, the political responses of the nation-states involved might vary over time in relation to increasing numbers of undocumented migrants arriving at or passing through their national territory. By narrowing down the focus of analysis to a specific geopolitical region (here the Mediterranean basin), our understanding of the phenomenon of irregular migration can be contextualized and deepened by a comparative approach. The workshop calls for empirically based research on Mediterranean transit migration which aims at a better understanding of what has been labelled as 'mixed migration flow' in Europe.

Discussant: Maria Couroucli

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

The puzzle of Mediterranean transit migration

Author: Jutta Lauth Bacas  email
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Long Abstract

The aim of the proposed paper is to discuss basic theoretical concepts and methodological questions related to the study of Mediterranean transit migration. Taking the contribution of Glick Schiller "From migrant to transit migrant" as a starting point, a critical review will discuss some of the analytical tools applied in empirical studies on transit migration, for example the concepts of transit/illegal/irregular/undocumented migrant. Another aspect under review will be the methodological dimension of transit migration studies and the different (qualitative/quantitative) approaches to document and analyze mixed migration flows. Furthermore, the proposed paper will focus on questions still to be answered in transit migration research, for example a clearer understanding of the social dimension of irregular migration, the political responses of South European states to increasing numbers of undocumented migrants, and the processes of constructing and de-constructing (by clandestine border crossing) Europe's southern frontiers.

Imagining the frontier: European state borders, globalizing migration theory and the lived worlds of migrants

Author: William Kavanagh (CEU San Pablo University, Madrid)  email
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Long Abstract

Borders are spaces and places of cultural production. A frontier is not a static entity, but something which is constantly being constructed (and reconstructed) in different ways. This paper looks at how the anthropological theorizing about borders can put into local context globalizing migration theory and help us to understand the lived reality of those attempting, often in very dangerous ways, to cross some of Europe's frontiers.

'I would have never imagined travelling like this': journeys towards and across Europe

Author: Anitta Kynsilehto (Tampere Peace Research Institute)  email
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Long Abstract

Undocumented migration constitutes a major political enemy for the European Union and its member-states. Portrayed as the migration crisis in the Mediterranean Sea, boat migration exemplifies much of the contemporary media imagery concerning migration. This paper engages with (re)thinking embodiment and political agency in the context of undocumented migration towards European Union member-states. Methodologically the paper takes its cue from cultural studies approaches and multi-sited ethnography (Marcus 1995; 1998) in order to consider critically the possibilities available for non-EU citizens to access EU member-states and to cross internal borders therein in the light of EU documents, lobby organizations working for enhancing migrants' and refugees' rights, and individual itineraries. Furthermore, the paper considers the possibilities currently available for those that have reached a point within their wandering to build a life in Europe.

Narratives of self and other in migration trajectories

Author: Paul Clough (University of Malta)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper probes the sense of Self and Other among African irregular immigrants on the island republic of Malta. Using a case study method, it pays particular attention to the moral dimension in their narratives of personal self and Maltese other. It seeks to compare these narratives in terms of the trajectories of work experienced or initiated by African immigrants. Thus, it compares different narratives by reference to economic contexts. Its purpose is to determine whether or not it is possible to analyse a self-conscious, morally conscious will at work beneath changeable and variable identities among African immigrants on Malta.

Studying immigrants' identities on the frontiers of Europe

Author: Francesco Bruno Bondanini (Universität zu Köln)  email
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Long Abstract

During the migration process, immigrants have to wait within the frontiers of Europe.One of which is the city of Melilla, a colonial conquest of the old Spanish Empire in Africa. Immigrants of various origins live in a special Centre called C.E.T.I. (Centro de Estancia Temporal de Immigrants) where they have to stay until the government decide if they can be expelled to Spain or to their home country. My work analyses the construction of identities through the study of their everyday life,living in groups, their rituals and socialization process of these immigrants blocked within this frontier of Europe. I have started working with immigrants who are resident in the C.E.T.I in different ways: interviewing them with the aim to observe their lives and analyse their identity construction process, and how they have rebuilt their lives within the frontier. Many authors analyse immigrants' identities and in particular I have been inspired by Abdelmalek Sayad's theory of "double absence" and Alessandro Dal Lago's theory of immigrant as "not person" .

The Afghan migrants from the frontiers of Iran to Europe

Author: Azita Bathaïe (University Paris Ouest Nanterre la Defense)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper addresses issues about the social profiles of Afghan migrants from Iran to Greece and France. Fieldwork in all three countries has revealed two different situations: first, a long-established multisited migrant community in the Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran area and second, a more recently formed group of aspiring migrants to Europe, moving across borders and making prolonged "stops" in major European capitals. Family, neighbour and friendship are the basis for the first type of networks, while the second type relies on unstable contingent configurations. Young migrants come into contact with both patterns during their journeys towards Europe, adjusting to widely different situations and circumstances. I propose to explore some adaptation strategies of young Afghans through itineraries and narratives I have collected in Greece and France.

Transit migrants shuffling between categories

Author: Didem Danis (Galatasaray University)  email
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Long Abstract

Transit migration is not a completely new phenomenon, yet it acquired a new meaning since the beginning of the 1990s. The main attribute that would define transit migrant's existence is "transitoriness". S/he is "in limbo", in a sort of "purgatory" characterized by a strong sense of temporariness. This entrapment in incertitude is not only related to their emotional experiences but also to the reception policies and treatment of the host governments.

This paper aims to examine "transit migrants" in Turkey, a country that has begun to be known as a typical route of Asian and African irregular migrants heading towards Europe. Although often categorized under the same heading as "clandestines" I will try to show the role of reception policies and practices in the definition of transit migrants' status. In order to do so, I will analyze the case of Iraqis whose massive displacement continues since the 1991 Gulf War. By using the research data collected by in-depth interviews with Iraqis, I will examine their shuffling between various categories and its impact on their daily experiences.

The social context of hrigue: a Moroccan view

Author: Carlo Capello (University of Turin)  email
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Long Abstract

In my research among migrants-to-be in Morocco, I tried to understand the migratory movement towards Europe through an analysis of the social and cultural context of departure. The latter is characterised by marked economic and social fissures entailing the exclusion of vast strata of the population - young men in particular - and by the spreading of a "culture of exile" that valorises migration as the only way of flight from an unbearable situation. However, since migratory dreams and projects clash with the control policies of the European countries, various forms of more or less irregular migration (hrigue) are undertaken.

In my paper I would like to focus on the social context of migration and on the various exit strategies devised by the Moroccan migrants-to-be.

Bringing up children in transit: the life of African migrant women with their children in Morocco

Author: Inka Stock  email
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Long Abstract

Even though most of the African migrants in Morocco hope to travel to Spain and then further on to other European countries, they spend increasingly longer periods in Morocco in often difficult conditions.

This paper describes the situation of a number of female African migrants who are living in Morocco with their children. It is based on ongoing qualitative research with migrants in Rabat that consists of interviews with migrants and participant observation. Specific emphasis is based on these women's strategies to find work and shelter, to organise health care and education for their children and how their relations to both Moroccan and migrant communities in Rabat as well as abroad influence these strategies.

Beyond the description of women's personal experiences in transit, the paper attempts to link these experiences to the life-course approach by highlighting the connection between the condition of "immobility" in transit and life-course development.

Children on the wave: minors, migration, and the new European 'southern frontier'

Author: Francesco Vacchiano (ICS-UL, Lisbon)  email
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Long Abstract

The process of progressive construction of the European southern frontier has produced, as a result, the emergence of a new migratory subject in the Mediterranean space: the minor migrating "alone", generally defined in Europe as "unaccompanied". This profile stands out for its "interstitial" function, challenging the securitarian/bureaucratic devices set up to extend the regulatory space of the border from its geographical projection to the various aspects of daily life.

This contribution is aimed at describing the phenomenon and its gradual emergence on the scene of the new Mediterranean migrations, to observe its characteristics through the analysis of two life stories seen through an ethnopsychological perspective, and to discuss some possible open issues: the sense of defining it as a fact of "minors", the various tools used to frame it, the implications for the experience of children and adolescents and the forms of the construction of their subjectivity.

Between Libya and Europe: migrants and Italian realpolitik

Author: Francesco La Rocca (ETNOS)  email
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Long Abstract

Migration flows seem to assume different shapes and meanings. It is not possible to apply any formal definitions to separate discrete migrant groups. Normally we use related labels, designed for diplomatic or political scopes, especially in Italy.

Irregular mixed migration, because of the dangerous conditions undergone by migrants in transit, at sea or in border areas, is the new challenge for the Italian authorities for humanitarian, diplomatic, political and human rights reasons. Sicily is naturally the first European door and bridge between Lybia and Italy. With this empirical work I'd like to present a better profile of irregular migrants, with their personal experiences and the reponses by Italians to their arrival, which appears to be a mix of formal legal severity with natural acceptance and the vicious circle of the media.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.