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Reconsidering Free Movement
A workshop series : 27/05, 28/05, 01/06, 02/06, 10am-1pm, online
The purpose of the workshop is to bring together people from different disciplines and who study different regions or topics to reflect together on free movement, its definitions, the struggles for and against free movement, as well as for its definition – a longer-term objective is a collective publication on this topic.
The aim is to explore free movement not so much from a normative perspective, but in practice : how are practices of free movement set up and working (including in cases where they might not be labelled as such)? How, in other cases, is the free movement of persons restricted ? How are processes officially geared at setting up free movement working in practice ? Who are the various actors of free movement and how do they make sense of their practices ? Who are the people defending free movement, how do they define it and fight for it ? In order to interrogate this, we are interested in generating a collective discussion between people who have not necessarily worked on processes usually falling under the label of ‘free movement’, but which allow us to think about it.
We are particularly interested in :
- questioning genealogies and histories of free movement, or of different definitions or experiences of free movement ;
- questioning the different spaces and scales of free movement ;
- questioning the logics of inclusion and exclusion at play ;
- examining and comparing the differentiated dynamics of free movement for persons, goods and capital ;
- examining the actors of free movement and their practices.
Discussion : Antoine Pécoud, Université Sorbonne Paris Nord/ICM, and Hélène Thiollet, Sciences Po Paris-CERI/ICM
Betty Rouland, IRMC : Intra-regional mobilities in practices : a geo-historical perspective in Tunisia
This paper discusses the evolution of intra-regional practices of mobilities from the colonial period to nowadays through the case study of Tunisia. Until the 2011 popular uprisings, the country was primarily known as a country of “emigration”and intra-regional mobility was hardly documented.
Economists even qualify the region as “no Maghreb” (Hammami, 2016, Mahjoub, 2017) in reference to the low level of economic integration. By using a geo-historical perspective, the paper emphasizes interactions and development resulting from multi-scalar spaces of circulations (cross-border, regional, transnational) in the region. It is based on various empirical studies of Libyans, Moroccans and Algerians in diﬀerent cities in Tunisia. Intra-regional practices of mobilities result from the evolution of specific geopolitical contexts combined with the accumulation of contiguities (geo- historical, political, and socio-cultural) and more recently processes of regionalization by the bottom- up.
Diego Acosta, University of Bristol : Regional free movement of people law : a new field of study for international migration law
A powerful narrative presents the response to the global challenge of migration as the erection of borders. This paper explores its apparent converse : the easing of borders at regional level. There are now policies and laws facilitating free movement of people in at least thirty-three regional organizations involving 174 states, in addition to numerous bilateral agreements and domestic norms. Yet little work has been done to understand their scope. This Article defines a new field of study for international migration law, labelled as regional free movement of people law, and systematically presents its components.
Delphine Perrin, IRD-LPED : Reflecting on free movement in ECOWAS from the Nigerien context
Free movement in ECOWAS is a social phenomenon, an old political project as well as an object of fantasy. Intra-African free movement projects have recently been relaunched at the regional and continental levels : they exemplify a desire to develop an « African approach » to migration, that would be distinct from a European approach, but alongside which it could flourish. These projects are evolving at a time when African states (mainly in the Mediterranean and the Sahel) are engaged in « globalized » legal and political migration dynamics : they are developing migration policies and legislation that are supposed to regulate migration, they are promoting discourses of mobility management and they are participating in the securitization of migration by reinforcing a legal arsenal to fight against unregulated migration.
My paper will present some reflections on free movement in the ECOWAS space in light of the new situation in Niger, which has been engaged since 2016 in a fight against « migrant smuggling » and « human traﬃcking ».
The Nigerien perspective allows us to highlight two areas of reflection :
- intra-African free movement in a context of informality : how the discourse and instruments for fighting irregular migration and promoting regular migration clash with the practices of states and individuals ;
- Intra-African freedom of movement in a « globalized » security context : how to achieve freedom of movement in a political space inserted in and connected to other spaces (Mediterranean, European, ..)? Is it possible to achieve in spite of these interactions that constrain freedom of movement, without questioning and confronting the mobility management system outside the ECOWAS space ?
Camille Gendrot, Université Paris 1‑IREDIES/ICM : Free movement of persons in West Africa : historical choices and the impacts on current rights
The construction of a right to free movement of persons in West Africa is essentially being carried out within the framework of subregional international organizations. As early as the late 1950s, a project emerged to create a space, without calling into question colonial administrative sharing, where workers could continue to move while maintaining a form of unity among the future independent states. The Sahel-Benin Union was the first forum in which the political idea of facilitating intra- regional movement developed. While the idea of facilitating the movement of part of the people of the subregion is an old one, its translation into a right to free movement for part of the citizens is relatively recent.
Indeed, it was not until the late 1970s that a right to free movement was for the first time legally aﬃrmed and implemented by the Constitutive Act of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) signed in 1975. Other spaces in the subregion subsequently developed, responding to particular political struggles – such as the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and the Community of Sahelo-Saharan States (CENSAD) – or to specific technical areas – such as river management within the Mano River Union (MRU).
These movements, which some authors have described as « fragmentation of international legal action » or « sub-regionalism », lead us to question the objectives of their creation. Each organization is the result of a particular creation process. Through their study, we observe that the choice of free movement of persons is first and foremost part of economic integration projects. Nevertheless, limiting the explanation and definition of this right to its economic dimension does not embrace the motivations and objectives advocated in the regional texts. Integrating the West African territories with the ambition of creating an area of peace and stability for the West African populations also remains the spearhead of these organizations.
These ideological approaches are more or less reflected in the legal norms that West African organizations have developed. It therefore seems important to study the construction of rights to free movement of persons in the subregion in order to understand the legal impacts of the policy choices made by States. We thus propose to examine how the choice of a liberal free movement of persons translates into the current recognition of rights relating to the movement of persons in the subregion.
Discussion : Sara Casella Colombeau, Université de Grenoble-Alpes/ICM, and Olivier Clochard, CNRS-Migrinter/ICM
Torsten Feys, VLIZ-IMIS : Viapolitics of Transport Revolutions & their Restrictive Impact on Free Movement
Transport revolutions marked the long nineteenth century which has been labeled as the era of free mass migration and by extension free movement. There is a general consensus that the increased mobility caused by transport revolution forced nation states to suspend passport regulations and lower controls on mobility. However, this assumption lacks empirical research, not least from the perspective of the transport companies and their relations with state authorities. The presentation argues that the transport revolution facilitated state control over human mobility on two levels. First it concentrated a great number of passengers on vehicles travelling at fixed schedules. Second it gave rise to a limited number of major transport companies facilitating relations between the transport sector and state authorities. This allowed states to gradually integrate transport companies in mobility control mechanisms using them as important actors of enforcing migration/mobility policies. This put transport companies in a paradoxical position as their natural logic spurs free movement, yet the impositions force them to restrict it. As states gained power, transport companies were increasingly pushed in a diﬃcult balancing act to swell their passenger numbers while avoiding that governments imposed further restrictions on their business. This balancing act and how American and Belgian authorities used transport revolutions (steamship and railroads respectively) to carry out their migration/mobility policies will be used as case-studies.
Martin Seeleib-Kaiser, Eberhard Karls University Tübingen : Territoriality, Citizenship, and Welfare
The provision of welfare has historically been closely associated to a specified territory, be it the local municipality, region or the nation state. Increased internal mobility and international migration has regularly challenged the definition of insiders or citizens, being able to access welfare. Territorial jurisdictions have used various means to restrict mobility, or have provided the right to freedom of movement very often dependent on economic considerations. Welfare in this paper is defined as the provision of the means of subsistence either in the form of poor relief or the right to social assistance. The paper draws on experiences and developments in diverse jurisdictions of Europe, the People’s Republic of China and the US. It will discuss the tension between territoriality and accessing welfare in an historical and international comparison, diﬀerent understandings of citizenship, and finally the need for a guaranteed social minimum as an element of EU citizenship in the 21st century.
Adrienne Mannov, Aarhus University : Leviathan to-go : What is means to move freely with an itinerant sovereign
This talk will focus on free movement through the lens of protection and care of those subject to and moving across state jurisdictions. My work takes its point of departure in fieldwork among international merchant seafarers and their perceptions of physical and existential security in connection with contemporary maritime piracy (Mannov 2015). One perspective that emerged from this project is an analysis of how power, protection and care are practiced at sea and on land, which I call “itinerant sovereignty” (Mannov, n.d.). Modern sovereignty grows out of a Westphalian framing of political space and power within bounded territorial space, and sovereignty at sea is framed as “free” (Cf. UNCLOS). But I argue that sovereignty – in the sense of the power to wield force for and against a subject for the purpose of protecting and providing care – is neither as static as national, physical borders might imply, nor is it as fluid as the notion that mare liberum (Cf. Grotius 1609) imparts upon us. Instead, sovereignty is deeply strategic, relational, politically driven and itinerant. I supplement these ideas with how itinerant sovereignty is helpful to think with in connection with networked cyberspaces (Cf. Hildebrandt 2017). How might we think about free movement and protection when the space through which we move is both physical and virtual ? Thinking about what it moves to move freely through the lens of itinerant sovereignty is fruitful because it forces us to step outside of legal frameworks as if they were representations of how political space is practiced and into what actually happens when people, ideas and things move (or are blocked) through physical and virtual spaces.
Discussion : Emmanuel Blanchard, Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines-CESDIP/ICM, and Laura Odasso, Collège de France /ICM
Farida Souiah, LAMES : Free movement between France and Algeria : a lost cause for French bureaucrats (1962–1989) ?
Since Algeria’s independence in 1962, circulations of people have been a major diplomatic issue in Franco-Algerian relations. The Evian agreements, signed on March 18, 1962 and approved by referendum on April 8 of the same year, maintained a privileged regime of circulation between France and Algeria. No specific travel documents were required for Algerians to travel to France. They were free to travel between France and Algeria with an identity card (except in the case of a court decision). The post-colonial period is that of a multiplication of obstacles to freedom of movement, through increasing required formalities for migrants and travelers between the two countries. Based on the French diplomatic archives located in La Courneuve, this contribution focuses on the actors and institutions that positioned themselves in defense of freedom of movement between 1962 and 1989 (the year visas were imposed between the two countries), tracing the evolution of the arguments mobilized and the causes invoked to justify their implementation or maintenance, at least from a formal point of view. In particular, it explores the divergences between the French Ministry of Foreign Aﬀairs (MAE) and the French Ministry of the Interior, as well as the divergences within MAE on this issue of freedom of movement.
Mahmoud Keshavarz, HDK-Valand Academy of Art and Design : Colonial Techniques of (Im)mobility
What does histories of technologies of mobility from the perspective of those banned from moving tell us ? Focusing on a time period from 1800 to 1920, this essay will bring few examples of technological formations around which identification practices were linked to the right to move.
Blending state and non-state actors who were involved in imposing, negotiating and contesting certain technologies of mobility control, the essay links the ways in which technologies of free movement for colonizers and their interests were part and parcel of technologies of controlling the colonized. In this sense, expansion, grasping and occupation mobilized through a liberal claim to freedom of movement went hand in hand with restrictions, confinement and expulsion all of which were impossible without a set of specific identification practices linked to the right to move. If free movement became possible for some because they could be known, this essay argues that the right to free movement always needs to be discussed in relation to the right to opacity.
Emma Carmel, University of Bath : The double coloniality of ‘Europeanness’: free movement governance from Rome to Brexit
‘Free movement’ (strictly, free movement of labour, FMoL) is today frequently touted as an emblematic, even constitutive feature of the EU as a project. Yet this characterisation of FMoL as fundamental to the identity of the Union is belied by the major transformations in its definition, regulation and privileges since the Treaty of Rome. This paper argues that this ambivalent status of FMoL stems from its role as a central – if dynamic – governance practice of colonial political economy since the late 20c. ‘Free movement’ has never been a fundamental condition for either member statehood or individual citizenship. However, FMoL is fundamental to its ontology. That is, it is fundamental to the ways in which the ‘Europeanness’ of the Economic Community, and later the Union, is dynamically articulated in relation to both what is outside, or non-European, and what is inside and is European. Empirically the paper examines four key changes in EU free movement regulation : Rome, the introduction of social security co-ordination ; Amsterdam and the 2004 accessions ; and pre-Brexit negotiations. It finds that FMoL governance has always circumscribed who gets to be European and have access to FMoL ; and stratified the terms and conditions of such access among those who are deemed ‘European’. These circumscriptions and stratifications are deeply implicated in the racial, gendered, classed and geo-political hierarchies of the Union. Through this, we can identify a double coloniality of relations : on the one hand, among highly stratified citizens and states inside the Union, and on the other, between ‘the Union’ and those citizens and states outside it. This double coloniality is inscribed in specific regulations on work, marriage, social security and welfare. Despite regulatory change and redefinition over time, FMoL has persistently exhibited this double coloniality ; contingently trying to fix the boundaries of what counts as European and Europeanness.
Discussion : Nora El Qadim, Université Paris 8‑CRESPPA/ICM
Charles Heller : Towards a Politics of Freedom of Movement
If the only alternative to the current regime of border closure seems to be one founded in migrants’ freedom of movement, this political horizon is confronted with a host of diﬃculties. By way of trying to respond to these issues, we set out from the multiple borders and social boundaries that constrain migrants’ movements as they travel, and highlight the many dimensions of the struggle into which one must engage to implement a politics of freedom of movement.
Kristin Surak, SOAS-University of London : Free Movement, For a Price : Investment Migration and Cross-Border Mobility
Investment migration programs oﬀer “golden passports” and “golden visas” in exchange for a passive investment in a country. Driving demand for these oﬀerings is the concern by the wealthy to secure mobility, whether in the present, in the form of crossing borders, or in the future as a Plan B. For those who can aﬀord it, the programs oﬀer a way to circumvent borders once they become inconvenient – which were often the borders that facilitated their wealth accumulation in the first place. For the countries, they bring in a fast but small injection of foreign direct investment with few costs. These dynamics oﬀer interesting comparisons with those of multi-national corporations, which also leverage jurisdiction to their own advantage, while countries compete for a small slice of the pie.
Darshan Vigneswaran, University of Amsterdam : Freedom is a Road Seldom Travelled by the Multitude : Black Thinkers and Migration as Resistance
The concept of ‘free movement’ has often be8en narrowly conceived in ‘liberal’ terms, as corresponding to the absence of state impediments upon personal choices to move. This work seeks to move beyond this liberal framework, through a genealogical survey of the relationship between ideas of physical movement through space and the lived experience of autonomous choice across a range of anti-colonial and anti-racist political theory. The understandings of freedom that were constituted in and through confrontations with racialised and colonial forms of oppression, necessarily placed a heavy emphasis on addressing and overcoming territorialized, racialised and violent forms of control. In contrast to liberal ideals of freedom, these anti-colonial and anti-racist thinkers conceptualised freedom as an activity or lived experience rather than a passive condition or absence. Key here, was the notion that specific forms of im/mobility – occupation, transgression, flight – etc. could unsettle territorial and radicalised forms of power, and open up pathways to alternate forms of political order. This paper explores how mobility came to be central to their understandings of what it meant to be free in these contexts, and then looks for ways in which these ideals of freedom may both reframe the way we think about contemporary migrants’ acts of occupation, transgression and flight as political.
LIBRCIRC project is funded by the Institut Convergences Migrations.
Project coordinated by Nora El Qadim and the LIBRCIRC team : Emmanuel Blanchard, Sara Casella Colombeau, Olivier Clochard, Camille Gendrot, Laura Odasso, Hélène Thiollet, Antoine Pécoud.