Beyond here and there (Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies)

Beyond here and there (Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies)

Beyond here and there: (re)conceptualising migrant journeys and the ‘in-between’

Heaven Crawley and Katharine Jones

Abstract

Journeys of refugees and other migrants are typically represented as linear movements between two places with the academic and policy gaze directed primarily towards the places people leave and what is assumed to be their final destination. This linear representation presupposes that people have a specific country in mind when they depart and that everything ‘in-between’ is simply a ‘stepping stone’. This article explores the journeys of Syrians, Nigerians and Afghans drawing on empirical data gathered in Turkey, Greece and Italy during 2015. Our evidence suggests that, even for those who eventually arrived in Europe, the places to which people initially travelled were often destination rather than ‘transit countries’. It was only when life became untenable and a decision was made to move that these places took on a state of ‘in-betweenness’, most commonly as part of a personal narrative mobilised by respondents to make sense of the broader arc of their life experiences. Failure to understand, or even ask questions about, the multiple meanings which places have for people at different points in both their phsycial and metaphorical (life) journeys, undermines conceptual and empirical analysis of migrant journeys and plays into anti-immigrant discourses prevalent across much of the Global North.

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Refugees, migrants, neither, both (Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies)

Refugees, migrants, neither, both (Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies)

Refugees, migrants, neither, both: categorical fetishism and the politics of bounding in Europe’s ‘migration crisis’

Heaven Crawley and Dimitris Skleparis

Abstract:

The use of the categories ‘refugee’ and ‘migrant’ to differentiate between those on the move and the legitimacy, or otherwise, of their claims to international protection has featured strongly during Europe’s ‘migration crisis’ and has been used to justify policies of exclusion and containment. Drawing on interviews with 215 people who crossed the Mediterranean to Greece in 2015, our paper challenges this ‘categorical fetishism’, arguing that the dominant categories fail to capture adequately the complex relationship between political, social and economic drivers of migration or their shifting significance for individuals over time and space. As such it builds upon a substantial body of academic literature demonstrating a disjuncture between conceptual and policy categories and the lived experiences of those on the move. However, the paper is also critical of efforts to foreground or privilege ‘refugees’ over ‘migrants’ arguing that this reinforces rather than challenges the dichotomy’s faulty foundations. Rather those concerned about the use of categories to marginalise and exclude should explicitly engage with the politics of bounding, that is to say, the process by which categories are constructed, the purpose they serve and their consequences, in order to denaturalise their use as a mechanism to distinguish, divide and discriminate.

To cite this article;

Crawley, H and Skleparis, D (2017) “Refugees, migrants, neither, both: categorical fetishism and the politics of bounding in Europe’s ‘migration crisis’” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, DOI:10.1080/1369183X.2017.1348224

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