SOAS University of London

Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

Migration and the mapping of global danger

Dr Ruben Andersson (Oxford)

Date: 30 November 2016Time: 3:15 PM

Finishes: 30 November 2016Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: S211

Type of Event: Seminar

This paper offers a tangential spatial angle to studies of migration in considering how the official and popular framing of certain kinds of cross-border movement as a threat relates to larger trends in the relationship-by-intervention forged between former colonising powers and poor, crisis-hit regions. The starting point is how, in the post–9/11 years, we have seen the spread of ever-larger “no-go zones,” seen as constituting a danger especially to western states and citizens, including as regards migratory flows treated to a border security response. Contact points are reduced as aid workers withdraw, military operations are conducted from above, and few visitors, reporters, or researchers dare venture beyond the new red lines; meanwhile, borders are bunkering up, keeping out the unwanted. Casting an eye on this growing distanciation while building on anthropology’s critical security agenda, the paper draws an ethnographic map of “global danger” by showing how perceived transnational threats— terrorism, drugs, and displacement—are conjured, bundled, and relegated to world margins, from the sub-Saharan Sahel to the “AfPak”borderlands. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Mali, it shows how a relationship by remote control has developed as Western interveners seek to overcome a fundamental dilemma: their deep concern with perceived threats emanating from the danger zone set against their aversion towards entering it. As ambivalent sites of distance and engagement, I argue, such zones are becoming invested with old fantasies of remoteness and otherness, simultaneously kept at arm’s length and unevenly incorporated into a world economy of risk.

Organiser: Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

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