Contested Meanings of Migration Facilitation: Emigration Agents, Coyotes, Rescuers, and Human Traffickers

15.11-16.11.2021, Symposium, Berkeley

Ursprünglich für den 16.11.-17.11.2020 geplant. Beachten Sie zu dieser Veranstaltung bitte auch die aktuellen Informationen des DHI Washington.

Annual Academic and Policy Symposium: Innovation through Migration at GHI PRO | Conveners: Ulf Brunnbauer (Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies & Regensburg University) and Andrea Westermann (GHI PRO)

The symposium will explore migration facilitation as situated between securing borders, solidarity networks, and economic interests or needs. It brings together Germany-based professionals from the academic, cultural, activist, and policy sectors as well as colleagues from California and other parts of the United States working in similar contexts. 

Nation-states often see immigration facilitation as threatening their claims to sovereign control of their borders and population. Over one hundred years ago in 1910, the Immigration Commission of the U.S. Congress issued a report on “Importation and Harboring of Women for Immoral Purposes.” Stories of European women being forced into prostitution and more general fears of “white slavery” were powerful tropes in calls for restricting immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe. At the same time, such stories fueled demands for the restriction of emigration in Europe. The assistance of escape from oppressive or genocidal regimes in the 20th century was again linked with (re)negotiations of state- and nationhood and opens up new questions about humanitarianism as well as securitization, too.

Moving forward in time and into other regions, anti-immigrant policies targeting the U.S.-Mexican border are today presented as a fight against traffickers. At the same time, both the political economy of vendors and ‘coyotes’ in the U.S.-Mexican borderlands and the general U.S.-American labor market depend for their flourishing on the restriction or illegalization of immigration. As for Europe, today’s humanitarian NGOs patrolling the Mediterranean assisting migrants in distress are being recast as people smugglers and thus legitimate objects of police persecution. We might also include state-led migration facilitation initiatives and repatriation programs into the picture, all of them intersecting with hierarchies of gender, race, and class.

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