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Moderators: Abdul Wohab and Marta Welander
Forced displacement due to climate crises, war and conflict, entrenched poverty and other protracted crises continue to drive individuals to seek safety in Europe. In response to this, Europe’s migration and asylum-related policies and practices continue to be deeply problematic; the member states of the European Union (EU) are yet to reach an agreement on responsibility sharing after several years of negotiation, and Europe’s external borders are characterised by border violence, pushbacks and callous deals struck with third countries to keep people out at all costs.
While the tightening of Europe’s borders depends to an important degree on policies of non-entrée, spatial interdictions, and a ‘letting die’ approach (Garelli and Tazzioli, 2019), more subtle forms of bordering technologies are also at play. Arguably, a ‘politics of exhaustion’ (Welander, 2020; Ansems de Vries and Welander, 2016) is instrumental to Europe’s contemporary border and migration control. The politics of exhaustion, whilst not taking life or killing directly, comprises an array of tactics devised to render migrants’ lives governable and pliant with the premeditated intention of negating autonomy, well-being, and self-efficacy and curbing autonomous migratory movements through physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion (Welander, 2020). Indeed, the European response to migration is characterised by harmful ‘regimes of practices’ (Jaspars, 2020) and ‘everyday aggressions’ against people on the move across Europe’s borderlands and host countries (Jaspars, 2021).
However, at the same time, a broad movement of human rights defenders, NGOs, activist, aid workers and volunteers continue to stand firmly in solidarity with people on the move – by working to uphold their rights in a relentless attempt to restore safety and dignity, and provide opportunities for a pretence at life. We are hence witnessing a deeply polarised European approach to human mobility; one of making live, letting die.
This panel builds on the previous IHSA Conference panels ‘Everyday violence and resistance in Europe’s ‘migration management’ during the Covid-19 pandemic’ in 2021, and ‘Migration, Protracted Crisis and Humanitarianism’ in 2018. We welcome submissions, on one or more of the above-mentioned dynamics, from researchers and academics at any career stage, activists, grassroots groups, and practitioners. Submissions from individuals with lived experience of borders and migration control are encouraged and supported to join.
TRIGGER WARNING: Please note that the content of some of the papers in this panel may trigger an emotional response for individuals who may have experienced or witnessed self-harm, violence and/or other traumatic events.