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664 - Irregular Migration and Border Management in North and Central America: Actors, Discourses, and Practices

18.07.2012 | 17:30 - 19:30

Convener 1: Kron, Stefanie (Freie Universität Berlin , Berlin, Germany / Deutschland)

Convenors: Stefanie Kron, Freie Universit ä t Berlin (Coordination) Carmen Camaaño, Universidad de Costa Rica (Discussant) The global increase of transnational migration that occurs beyond state-run politics of regulation has become a major concern both to governments and to organizations of international migration management. The “Global Commission on International Migration” (GCIM), for instance, argues that irregular migration currently constitutes an important threat to national sovereignty, public security, and the human rights of undocumented migrants (GCIM 2005: 32f). The “International Organization for Migration” (IOM) has been involved in the formation of various “Regional Consultative Processes on International Migration” (RCP’s) around the world in order to formulate intergovernmental and multilateral responses to current transnational governance problems such as irregular migration. National governments, meanwhile, increasingly adopt stricter immigration requirements and laws and seek to improve the mechanisms of border management. The national and supranational efforts to combat or control irregular migrations rely on constructions of undocumented migrants and their networks as either carriers of transnational “risks” (such as youth gangs, HIV/AIDS, and trafficking of drugs, arms, and humans) or victims of organized crime. In this context both the nation state and supranational actors appear as neutral forces that combat an “external”, that is to say historically and socially de-contextualised, security and human rights problem. Meanwhile, concepts of migrants as social actors, political subjects and carriers of social citizenship rights, as well as the responsibility of the nation-state to secure these rights, tend to be ignored.

The global trend to illegalise undocumented migration, and to criminalise or victimise migrants and their supporting networks, can be observed par excellence in the case of the North and Central American region. Here the criminalisation/victimisation paradigm is also becoming increasingly hegemonic among non-state and civil society actors such as scholars, NGOs, anti-immigrant movements, and religious organizations who act as “translators” and intermediaries of dominant meanings of irregular migration on the levels of knowledge production and everyday interactions. This is especially the case on the local level of the North and Central American border regions which have become important sites for cultural and social conflicts caused by the dynamics between irregular migration and modernised border management mechanisms.

Focussing on the discourses and practices of public, non-state and civil society “border actors” the symposium aims both to analyse the regional and local specifics of the conflictive dynamics between irregular migration and border management as well as to discuss in a reflexive manner alternative methodologies – beyond the criminalisation/victimisation paradigm – for the micro sociological and anthropological research on the subject. We welcome contributions (Spanish or English) which are relevant to these objectives.

Keywords: Migration, North and Central America, Border Management, Social and Cultural Conflict

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