Can the Irregular Migrant Woman Speak?
- 700 Downloads
This chapter provides an anthropological perspective on how public space and political mobilization becomes gendered and racialized. Drawing on fieldwork with a group of Ethiopian irregular migrants who demonstrated in the public sphere against the Norwegian government, it draws attention to how representations, the voices and frames of action, are shaped by the nation-state context in which the migrants mobilize. It asks what are the opportunities and limitations for representing ones’ claims as a noncitizen woman, and for representing oneself as a particular political subject.
By examining the dynamic interplay between Ethiopian irregular migrants’ claim-making on the one hand and how this mobilization was framed in the media on the other, I discuss how the demonstrators became shaped by gendered and socio-cultural perceptions of the “good citizen” in Norway. The chapter thus bring attention to how participation in public life is structured, how representation of migrants shapes participation in gendered ways, and the difficulties involved in contesting discourses around citizens that become, in the process, dominant.
Contributing to the scarce research that examines the process through which irregular migrants become political agents, this chapter thus shows how their political agency is constituted by the interrelated process of the socio-historical definition of who should belong in the nation-state and the responses that follow from their public voices. The nation-state sovereignty—by means of governing the public discourse on who is a potentially good citizen—shapes the lives, self-representation and subjectivation of irregular migrants because it fundamentally sets the conditions of recognition. At the same time, migrants protesting in the public become part of a genealogy of citizenship through which they also rupture and transform the content of the political community and its conditions of recognition.
KeywordsPublic Sphere Asylum Seeker Subject Position Good Citizen Good Mother
- Agamben, G. (1998). Homo sacer: Sovereign power and bare life. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Agier, M. (2011). Managing the undesirables. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
- Arendt, H. (1973). The origins of totalitarianism. Orlando, FL: Harvest Book.Google Scholar
- Balibar, E. (2000). What we owe to the Sans-papiers. In L. Guenther & C. Heesters (Eds.), Social insecurity (pp. 42–43). Toronto: Anansi.Google Scholar
- Balibar, E. (2002). Droit de cité. Paris: Quadrige/P.U.F.Google Scholar
- Ben-Asher, N. (2009). Who says “I Do”? In Pace Law Faculty Publications. Paper 611. Accessed January 10, 2014, from http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/611
- Bendixsen, S. (2013). Becoming members in the community of value: Ethiopian irregular migrants enacting citizenship in Norway. In A. Edelstein & M. Dugan (Eds.), Migration matters (pp. 3–22). Oxfordshire: Inter-Disciplinary Press.Google Scholar
- Butler, J., & Athanasiou, A. (2013). Dispossession: The performative in the political. Boston, MA: Polity.Google Scholar
- Butler, J., & Spivak, G. C. (2010). Who sings the nation-state? Language, politics, belonging. London: Seagull Books.Google Scholar
- Chavez, L. R. (2008). The Latino threat. Constructing immigrants, citizens, and the nation. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Couldry, N. (2010). Why voice matters. Culture and politics after neoliberalism. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Diken, B., & Laustsen, C. (2005). Culture of exception: Sociology facing the camp. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Isin, E. F. (2002). Being political. Genealogies of citizenship. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
- Laubenthal, B. (2013). The negotiation of irregular migrants’ right to education in Germany: A challenge to the nation-state. In A. Bloch & M. Chimienti (Eds.), Irregular Migrants: Policy, politics, motives and everyday lives (pp. 86–102). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Mohn, S. B., Sigmund Book Mohn, Dag Ellingsen, Øyvind Bugge Solheim, & Kristine Torgersen (2014). Et marginalt problem? Asylsøkere, ulovlig opphold og kriminalitet. Kristiansand: Oxford Research.Google Scholar
- Nicholls, W. J. (2013). The DREAMers. How the undocumented youth movement transformed the immigrant rights debate. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Nyers, P. (2010). No one is illegal between city and nation. Studies in Social Justice, 4(2), 127–143.Google Scholar
- Ong, A. (2003). Budda is hiding: Refugees, citizenship, the New America. Berkley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar