REFUGEE SUBJECTIVITY – ‘Bare life’ and the Geographical Division of Labour

In the border country
They’ve done it all
We kept watch
As they smashed the wall

Swell Maps, “Border Country” (1980)

While trans-national institutions like the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO clear the way for capital to move freely across the globe, European States are barricading their borders as if they expected a foreign army to invade.

In most of continental Europe this means the Schengen agreement, which suspends monitoring of borders between participating countries but gives immigration authorities unprecedented powers of surveillance, search and detention everywhere in the territory, not just at frontiers and ports of entry. Britain, meanwhile, is playing its part with the 1999 asylum Act, quietly pushed through by the Labour government under cover of the ‘anti racist’ Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. (A Home Office Green Paper explicitly links the two initiatives.)
The term ‘asylum seeker’ suddenly replaced ‘refugee’ in media and parliamentary language around the time of last Tory immigration act, finally passed in 1996. Wheras ‘refugee’ implies an active attempt [Read more →]

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