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
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