Global Studies Public Lecture on Globalisation and Crisis: Nando Sigona and Elisabeth Kirtsoglou on Migration and Refugees

28-03-2017 from 13:00 to 15:00
Paddenhoek 3, 9000 Gent (Filmzaal Plateau)
Ghent Centre for Global Studies, the Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees (CESSMIR) and the Migration Working Group (MWG) of Ghent University
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Globalisation and Crisis - Migration and refugees: whose crisis? 

Double session, co-organized by Ghent Centre for Global Studies, the Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees (CESSMIR) and the Migration Working Group (MWG) of Ghent University

What  crisis? Whose crisis? Drivers, journeys and responses to the Mediterranean boat migration by Nando Sigona (University of Birmingham)

This talk offers a critical perspective on the EU’s refugee crisis analysing drivers and dynamics of Mediterranean boat migration in 2015. Drawing on a unique dataset of 500 interviews with refugees and migrants who reached Italy, Greece and Malta in 2015, I will contrast their experiences, motivations and expectations to EU and national responses to the ‘crisis’ highlighting the fallacy of some of the assumptions that inform European responses to boat migration.

Nando Sigona is Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director of the Institute of Research into Superdiversity at the University of Birmingham. His research interests include: statelessness, diasporas and the state; Romani politics and anti-Gypsyism; ‘illegality’ and the everyday experiences of undocumented migrant children and young people; and crisis, governance and governmentality of forced migration in the EU; Mediterranean boat migration; Brexit and intra-European migration; and unaccompanied youth migration.

He is author or editor of books and journal’s special issues including  The Oxford Handbook on Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (with Fiddian Qasmiyeh, Loescher and Long, 2014), Sans Papiers. The social and economic lives of undocumented migrants (with Bloch and Zetter, 2014) and Diasporas Reimagined (with Gamlen, Liberatore and Neveu Kringelbach, 2015).  Nando is also Associate Editor of the journal Migration Studies. He has written for Newsweek, The Independent, Libération, OpenDemocracy and The Conversation.

Transitory Lives: Whose Crisis? Whose Responsibility? by Elisabeth Kirtsoglou (Durham University)

On the basis of original data collected in Greece in 2015 and 2016 I will demonstrate that the current ‘migration crisis’ is not simply the result of large or unmanageable flows of refugees reaching Europe, but rather, a direct consequence of the failure of a wide array of agents to fulfil their political and institutional roles in international protection. War, conflict and poverty related displacement has thus far been negotiated through the intensely problematic dichotomy between ‘refugees’ and ‘migrants’. As a consequence, the rights of persons who directly fulfilled the criteria of the 1951 Convention were heavily violated, while the historical and political routes of economic violence that produces ‘migrants’ remained unchallenged. A close examination of high-level strategies of responding to the refugee arrivals reveals a motif consistent with dominant neoliberal paradigms of governance. The EU systematically attempted to ‘sub-contract’ the management of arrivals to individual governments and promoted Regional Protection Programmes in third countries. Governments outsourced responsibilities to international NGOs that proved less than ready to cover the growing demands for humanitarian assistance. Key national and supranational agencies avoided the responsibility and ownership of a scheme of international protection by largely ‘contracting out’ the obligation to facilitate refugee passage to the third sector, solidarity networks, volunteers and local communities, As a result, an unprecedented ‘crisis’ has been produced, which resulted, in its turn, to the creation of multiple sites of exception and human rights violations. A critical analysis of political decisions and indecision, humanitarian anti-politics and refugee narratives, demonstrates an emerging model of citizenship in Europe, which is exclusionist, neo-orientalist and morally incompatible with a long-standing tradition of European moral and political values. 

Dr. Elisabeth Kirtsoglou is a political anthropologist of South Europe and has published extensively on gender, cosmopolitanism and globalisation. She is currently leading an ESRC grant on the Mediterranean migration crisis in Greece and Italy. She is a senior lecturer in the department of anthropology at Durham University and the Deputy Director of the Durham Global Security Institute.