TriBloc

International Conference « Migration Triage and Experiences of Blocking : Africa, America, Europe »

21 – 24 June 2021, Nice (France) – University Côte d’Azur

On a global scale, many migrant popu­la­tions are stopped in their journey at inter­na­tional border or on the roads and places that are grad­u­ally built up as internal state borders. The polit­ical processes of contention are currently a common denom­i­nator of the produc­tion of blocked situ­a­tions. As part of a trans­for­ma­tion of the dynamics of control and surveil­lance, these poli­cies don’t succeed in completely prohibit cross­ings, but do limit them and produce distinc­tions between people who will get access to desti­na­tion coun­tries and those who will encounter barriers. In spite of strong inter­na­tional injunc­tions, states have a space for nego­ti­ating their migra­tion poli­cies and arrange­ments, even if this space remains marked by patterns of domi­na­tion and dependence.

The « border effects » have in common that they confront migrants, like asylum seekers, with forms of blockage, thus length­ening waiting periods, producing new social dynamics, tempo­ral­i­ties and spatiality where various actors inter­vene. The objec­tive of the confer­ence is to analyze the diver­sity of migra­tory situ­a­tions produced by blockage at levels according to their produc­tion context. The aim of the event is to partic­i­pate in the construc­tion of a compar­a­tive frame­work to address these situ­a­tions by putting into perspec­tive the construc­tion of migra­tion poli­cies and their effects in Africa, Latin America and Europe.

On a global scale, many migrant popu­la­tions are stopped in their journey at inter­na­tional border or on the roads and places that are grad­u­ally built up as internal state borders. The polit­ical processes of contention are currently a common denom­i­nator of the produc­tion of blocked situ­a­tions. As part of a trans­for­ma­tion of the dynamics of control and surveil­lance, these poli­cies don’t succeed in completely prohibit cross­ings, but do limit them and produce distinc­tions between people who will get access to desti­na­tion coun­tries and those who will encounter barriers. The objec­tive of the confer­ence « ”Migra­tion triage” and expe­ri­ences of blockage : Africa, America, Europe » is to analyze the diver­sity of migra­tory situ­a­tions produced by blockage at different social, spatial and temporal scales according to their produc­tion context.

Since the 2000s, and even more in the 2010s, the migra­tion poli­cies of both the Euro­pean Union and the United States have been shaped by increased control of borders and migra­tion routes. Depending on national contexts, this logic has grad­u­ally imposed itself on States that until then had been desig­nated solely as transit areas (Mexico, Morocco, Niger, etc.), or as recep­tion areas for large move­ments of refugees (Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, etc.). Other states, in subor­di­nate geopo­lit­ical posi­tions, have in a short period of time become host coun­tries following massive move­ments of people displaced from their places of origin by « natural » disas­ters or polit­ical and social crises.

In both cases, there is conver­gence in terms of poli­cies for control­ling and tracking these move­ments. The logic of exter­nal­izing borders and the process of inter­nal­izing these same borders within national spaces, through the multi­pli­ca­tion of controls, have been observed. Although these poli­cies may present differ­ences in terms of actions at the national and local levels, they have in common to produce stranded migra­tion situ­a­tions and the emer­gence of new constraints in addi­tion to those previ­ously described.

In this perspec­tive, the ambi­tion of the confer­ence is to partic­i­pate in the construc­tion of a compar­a­tive frame­work to tackle these situ­a­tions on three conti­nents, Africa, America and Europe by comparing the construc­tion of migra­tion poli­cies and their effects. In spite of strong inter­na­tional injunc­tions, States have a nego­ti­ating space for their migra­tion poli­cies and measures, even if it remains marked by logics of domination/​dependence. On all three conti­nents, « border effects » have in common that they confront migrants, like asylum seekers, with forms of blocking, thus length­ening waiting periods, producing new spatial­i­ties, and even hindering all forms of crossing.

These migrants, some­times referred to as « in transit », despite the fact that the term has become unsuit­able, are concen­trated in human­i­tarian camps, are locked up in deten­tion centers or find them­selves confined in the inter­stices of urban spaces. Stranded by poli­cies of contain­ment, people in situ­a­tion of mobility are confronted with violent insti­tu­tional measures of exclu­sion. These spaces of limi­nality, border areas, precar­ious neigh­bor­hoods, camps, have been the subject of exten­sive research, focusing in partic­ular on waiting and daily living condi­tions. However, depending on places and types of envi­ron­ment, this exclu­sion of foreigners is accom­pa­nied by a logic of sorting according to the cate­gories of persons defined on the basis of inter­na­tional stan­dards and their appli­ca­tion in national legal systems (asylum seekers, inter­nally displaced persons…) or criteria of vulner­a­bility (unac­com­pa­nied minors, single women with children…).

This sorting process, built in the inter­ac­tion between state poli­cies and/​or regional orga­ni­za­tions, inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tions and some­times local author­i­ties, partic­i­pate in the construc­tion of this « long corridor » of waiting which involves all people in a situ­a­tion of mobility and not only asylum seekers, and produces situ­a­tions of legal and social waiting or continued mobility, at the risk of wandering situ­a­tions. This margin­al­iza­tion can also be accen­tu­ated by the human­i­tarian measures of inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tions and/​or civil society, which inter­vene in these different spaces (camps, ghettos, deten­tion centers…) gener­ally in the name of the vulner­a­bility of people. This notion of vulner­a­bility, whose use is trans­versal to all the actors, has different mean­ings depending on who states it and in what context.

Each actor involved follows his own polit­ical, bureau­cratic and oper­a­tional logic, including in the defi­n­i­tion of vulner­a­bility, and there­fore deter­mine who can get aid or not, who can access certain types of rights or not. How are constructed the inter­ac­tions between the actors involved in this exclu­sion of people in mobility ? How does « migra­tory sorting » contribute to this exclu­sion, and how has it become a compo­nent of filtering today ? The aim of the event is to ques­tion these processes in the light of contex­tu­al­ized indi­vidual and collec­tive expe­ri­ences, paying atten­tion to concrete, situ­ated and histori­cized expres­sions of the link between local, national or supra-regional poli­cies and their effects on the situ­a­tions of mobile populations.

Panel 1 : ”Vulner­a­bil­i­ties”: Cate­go­riza­tion, Limits and Bypasses

Faced with a gener­al­ized and poly­se­mous use of the term ”vulner­a­bility” to qualify and describe the situ­a­tions of people in mobility, the objec­tive is to ques­tion what this term produces in terms of indi­vidual and collec­tive migra­tory expe­ri­ences. How have vulner­a­bility criteria defined by different author­i­ties replaced the appli­ca­tion of the law, intro­ducing new forms of differ­en­ti­a­tion between people ? How do these same people seize on this cate­gory to stand out from the others ? This manage­ment of « vulner­a­bil­i­ties” addresses not only the ques­tion of human­i­tarian poli­cies, but more broadly the ques­tion of the forms of inter­ven­tion with these popu­la­tions : how does the assign­ment of mobile people to a situ­a­tion of vulner­a­bility justify inter­ven­tions as diverse as repres­sion, ”volun­tary return”, human­i­tarian assis­tance or even mili­tancy interventions ?

Panel 2 : Bureau­cratic Expe­ri­ences and Admin­is­tra­tive Wanderings

This panel will focus on the rela­tion­ship to law and the construc­tion of access to rights through migrant expe­ri­ences. How the spaces of rele­ga­tion produced by contention poli­cies are also specific spaces of action for bureau­cra­cies (of asylum, human­i­tarian moni­toring, return…) that run on long-term prospects ? How is access to this bureau­cracy nego­ti­ated at the indi­vidual or family level ? The role and status of inter­me­di­aries, the ways of bypassing them, the forms of self-presen­ta­tion will be analyzed. These bureau­cratic expe­ri­ences can be seen both as oppor­tu­ni­ties for long-term settle­ment in a place in spite of uncer­tainty, as well as double rele­ga­tion expe­ri­ences for those who lack the capacity to access them. For the latter, the complexity and closure of the inter­na­tional bureau­cratic system means keeping outside of any legal-admin­is­tra­tive system without the possi­bility of a safe haven.

Panel 3 : Visi­bility and Invis­i­bility in Urban Situ­a­tions of Marginality

The settle­ment and common rele­ga­tion of migrants in urban spaces marked by margin­ality is some­times seen as a guar­antee of rela­tive invis­i­bility, which would allow certain accesses, to employ­ment for example. As a coun­ter­point, visi­bility can be a condi­tion for nego­ti­ating the recog­ni­tion of specific situ­a­tions by urban actors and polit­ical deci­sion-makers. In any case, the tension between visi­bility and invis­i­bility deserves to be appre­hended with regard to urban envi­ron­ments. In small and medium-sized cities, as are often border cities or certain transit cities, the stranded migrants are de facto visible, and the condi­tions of incorporation/​acceptance are frequently marked by the effects of this (over)visibility. In larger cities, where disper­sion may allow forms of incor­po­ra­tion similar to the other minority groups, mobi­liza­tion and access to specific rights or measures may be less acces­sible. How do migrants nego­tiate their place in such contexts, when invis­i­bility can mean renouncing rights and visi­bility can autho­rize forms of mobilization ?

Panel 4 : Multi-stake­holder dialogue around an orig­inal border situ­a­tion : the Alpes-Maritimes

In the follow-up of a field­work day prior to the confer­ence, this panel aims to build exchanges between researchers special­izing in other geograph­ical areas and civil society or insti­tu­tional actors inter­vening on the French-Italian border. This panel discus­sion is in line with the creation of the Obser­va­toire des migra­tions dans les Alpes-Maritimes which aims to estab­lish a perma­nent dialogue between acad­e­mics and civil society in order to feed public debate and to co-construct knowl­edge with local stakeholders.

Mardi 22 juin :

9h : ouver­ture du colloque

9h30 à 13h – 3 conférences + débat

14h30 à 17h45 – Table-ronde n°1 : Des « vulnéra­bil­ités » : caté­gori­sa­tion, limites et contournements

Mercredi 23 juin :

9h30 à 12h45 – Table-ronde n°2 : Expéri­ences bureau­cra­tiques et errances administratives

14h30 à 17h45 – Table-ronde n°3 : Visi­bilité et invis­i­bilité dans des situ­a­tions urbaines de marginalité

Jeudi 24 juin :

10h à 13h – Table-ronde n°4 : Dialogue multi-acteurs autour d’une situ­a­tion de fron­tière orig­i­nale : les Alpes-Maritimes

13h – Clôture du colloque

Two comple­men­tary activ­i­ties are planned with the aim of rein­forcing the construc­tion of a multi­dis­ci­pli­nary and multi-space dialogue, and to initiate a compar­a­tive reflection :

- June 21 morning : field visit to Ventimiglia and its region (French-Italian border).
– June 24 after­noon : work­shop of exchanges on method­olog­ical expe­ri­ences and comparatism.

These two half-days will be restricted to the speakers of the conference.
For the method­olog­ical work­shop, partic­i­pants in the meeting who have a strong interest for the issues addressed will be able to inform the orga­nizers of their interest in partic­i­pating, depending on the places available.

Practical information and Registration

The public will be able to attend the confer­ence in Nice upon regis­tra­tion. There is no regis­tra­tion fee.
Possi­bil­i­ties to follow the confer­ence at a distance are envis­aged, infor­ma­tion to come.
For any specific ques­tion, see contact.

Organizing Committee an Institutional Support

Florence Boyer, URMIS/​IRD et GERMES Niger
Laurent Faret, CESSMA/​Université de Paris et IRD/​CIESAS Mexique
Françoise Lestage, URMIS/​Université de Paris
Dolores París, COLEF Mexique
Swanie Potot, CNRS/​URMIS Nice

URMIS, CESSMAel Colegio de la Fron­tera Norte, Obser­va­toire des migra­tions dans les Alpes Maritimes. 

Institut Conver­gence Migra­tions (ICM), Institut de la Recherche pour le Développe­ment (IRD), Institut des Amériques (IDA), Fédéra­tion Sciences Sociales Suds (F3S), Univer­sité de Paris, Univer­sité Côte d’Azur

Contact