Drawing on ethnographic cases from around the word, this workshop will discuss how legal and institutional practices and attitudes towards irregular migrants form their experiences of daily life and bodily expressions, but also their sense of agency, modes of resistance and contestation.
The question of irregular migration is currently high on the political agenda in Europe and beyond. The structural position of irregularity - associated with clandestine border crossings, detention camps, deportations, temporary shelters and the informal economy - is marked by precariousness. Increased border policing, deterioration of the living conditions in the asylum camps, and reduction of available social and health services are some measures by nation states performed in order to present themselves as an unattractive option to 'would-be refugees' and migrants. Rather than having the intended effects, the everyday lives of irregular migrants are ever more marked by radical uncertainty, lack of rights, and precarious situations exposing them to risk. Drawing on ethnographic examples from around the world, this workshop will discuss how the lack of legal standing produces marginalization in various aspects of migrants' life, with gendered differences. How are legal and institutional practices and attitudes towards irregular migrants forming the migrant's experiences of daily life, sense of agency and bodily expressions? How is the irregularity of the migrants' social status becoming embodied, in the way migrants move around, present or hide, and relate to their bodies? Are there gendered differences? How are children affected by their parents' legal and social conditions? Simultaneously, movements like 'no one is illegal' suggest that migrants also find ways to circumvent or limit uncertainty. How are irregular migrants, policed as illegitimate outsiders, attempting to obtain political and social rights? Which modes of resistance are irregular migrants employing in their everyday life?