Universitet 2018 – fira med oss

Utskrift från Malmö universitets webbplats www.mah.se

GPS seminarium 16 maj

Tid: 2018-05-16 13:15 -- 2018-05-16 15:00
Plats: Globala politiska studier, Lounge room, våning 9, Niagara, Malmö universitet, Nordenskiöldsgatan 1

Unlikely bonds on the EU’s external border: Why borderworkers should be viewed an analytical category

Daniela DeBono (Senior Lecturer, GPS)

Discussant: Bo Petersson (Professor, GPS)

Borderworkers, the frontline fieldworkers working directly on the territorial nodes of the border, are not considered by the literature or policy makers as a useful category of people. They are often dismissed as simple ‘cogs in the field’, as the ‘do-ers’ and not the thinkers.

Drawing on long term and multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in different localities in Sicily, Lampedusa and Malta where ‘first reception’ centres (also known as hotspots) have been set up, this paper contends that this particular group of people ought to be given a voice in the design and policy development of the border system. Borderworkers are a very diverse group of people working with humanitarian, security and medical entities. They are sometimes referred to vaguely in the literature as ‘stakeholders’, ‘street-level bureaucrats’ or ‘reception actors’ – terms which do not capture the intrinsic group quality that they display on the ground. This is partly a result of a direction taken by border studies which has tended to focus on the diffusion of borders in society, drawing attention away from the territorial border itself.

On the ground, borderworkers form an unlikely, but a rather distinct group, evidenced by their activity as well as overlapping forms of behaviour. This paper shows that this is brought about by a series of factors, among which their shared experience of disembarkation (and first reception) of irregular migrants, direct contact with migrants at a particularly vulnerable point in their reception trajectory and the knowledge that they are working in a system which is not looked upon with hostility by the local communities.

I conclude that the use of borderworkers as an analytical category in its own right will fill a gap in the current literature by allowing us to understand better the nuances in the social construction of the border, and that the insights afforded by this group are critical to policy makers interesting in ensuring that, not only are policies effective, but they also retain a modicum of humanity towards newly-arriving migrants.

Information on Daniela DeBono’s research is available at: http://forskning.mau.se/id/ab2790

Senast uppdaterad av Daniel Harju