RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018

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293 The geographies of migrant politics (1): performing politics
Affiliation Population Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Elizabeth Mavroudi (Loughborough University, UK)
Sophie Cranston (Loughborough University, UK)
Chair(s) Elizabeth Mavroudi (Loughborough University, UK)
Timetable Friday 31 August 2018, Session 2 (11:10 - 12:50)
Room Main Building - Large Shandon Lecture Theatre
Session abstract This session brings together papers on the changing geographies of migrant politics. Specifically, we wish to pay attention to the ways time and space are stretched across local, national, diasporic and transnational landscapes as migrants practice their politics in increasingly complex and diverse ways. The papers in this session explore migrant politics from the perspective of the migrant, the impact that migrants have and the challenges that they face. The session seeks to question the extent to which migrants in different contexts are able to be political, and whether they feel that by doing so, they are effecting any meaningful changes in their lives and those of others. We are also interested in exploring the myriad impacts of migrant politics on urban, rural and online landscapes and the limits to migrant politics in relation to power. Our understanding of politics is deliberately broad, and seeks to encompass formal and informal activities and processes carried out in collective and individual ways and in different cross-cutting scales, sites, times, spaces and places. Our use of migrant is also broad and includes all those 'on the move'. We are also interested in new theorisations on migrant politics which resonate with the challenges and opportunities migrants have in the contemporary world.
Linked Sessions The geographies of migrant politics (2): spaces of politics
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: ac2018@rgs.org
Refugees' squats as strategies of resistance
Valeria Raimondi (Gran Sasso Science Institute, Italy)
This work critically addresses the issue of temporary reception of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe, by focusing on the everyday forms and practices of resistance that migrants put in place, primarily to counter the 'illegalizing' policies of the EU states. From a theoretical point of view, the research connects the Critical Citizenship studies with the Autonomy of Migration literature, dealing with the migration issue first of all as a political question. A specific 'time' of the migration is investigated: the immobility - or the 'temporality of waiting' - of the prolonged moment during which migrants are stuck in the net of EU migration policies. The spatial scale is the urban, both because the city is the political space par excellence, and because with the migrants the border struggles have been relocated inside the urban milieus. The focus is on a specific form of refugee response initiative - a sort of self-reception system, i.e. the "City Plaza" in Athens (Greece), which is politicized in the structure and in the aim, with the support of an explicitly solidal local community. The research puts forward the hypothesis that these practices of 'autonomous geographies' constitute forms of self-provided 'alternative' welfare, capable of extending and renegotiating the status of citizenship. In addition, they provide a discursive space of political legitimation, while acknowledging alternative and non-state forms of 'citizenship in motion'. The research is based on a year fieldwork in Athens (Greece), primarily at "City Plaza - refugee accommodation and solidarity space".
Diasporas, agency and enterprise: politicised entrepreneurship in the Kurdish diaspora
Stephen Syrett (Middlesex University, UK)
Janroj Yilmaz Keles (Middlesex University, UK)
The strong focus in existing studies of diaspora politics on the role of the state has often been at the expense of recognising the importance of non-state actors and institutions to the spatially embedded process of diaspora politicisation. Transnational diaspora entrepreneurship is one neglected aspect of non-state practice, despite its growing extent and evidence indicating that diaspora entrepreneurs activities frequently extend into the social and political spheres, particularly within certain contexts such as the case of highly politicised conflict generated diasporas. Yet the relationship between entrepreneurial activity, processes of diaspora politicisation and the spatially embedded nature of diasporic identities, linkages and institutions across places of settlement and homeland areas remain largely unexplored within existing theoretical and empirical research. This paper addresses this gap through original primary research into Kurdish entrepreneurs operating in the media and publishing sector across Europe and homeland areas, to analyse their role in the politicisation process of a conflict generated diaspora. This research identifies the emergence and development of politicised entrepreneurship embedded within the evolving particularities of the host-homeland relations of the Kurdish diaspora. Results identify key factors driving this phenomenon, namely the development of politicised diaspora identities, the availability of resources and the opportunity framework for action. Analysis demonstrates how politicised diaspora entrepreneurship contributes to processes of politicisation through both the (re)production of diaspora identity and the engagement and mobilisation of diaspora communities. The identification of these processes has wider implications for political and policy agendas in relation to the development of globally significant conflict/post-conflict regions and the integration of diaspora populations in places of settlement.
The Agency and Responsibility of Actors Involved in Flooding Resettlement in Malawi
Hebe Nicholson (University of St Andrews, UK)
This paper explores the power dynamics involved in the resettlement process connected to severe flooding in the Lower Shire region of Malawi. It uses interviews conducted with three communities and stakeholders in NGOs and government involved in these communities. These three communities were identified by those in governance as having three different attitudes towards resettlement: unwilling, undecided, and resettled. The data raises interesting questions regarding agency and responsibility in resettlement. It highlights the miscommunication that can exist between communities and the governance and civil society sector. Migrants have more agency and ability to be political than they are initially given credit for. This is specifically seen through the added nuance that the data provides to the immobility paradox: a community may be provided by external actors with the perceived resources required to move, but still may not want to leave their ‘vulnerable’ area. It is also seen through the very efforts of the governance and civil society sector to persuade community members to resettle in their ‘appropriate’ way actually reinforcing the autonomy and resolution of those community members to ‘stay’ in that area. The resistance to movement leads the potential migrants to make a political statement over what is important to them and take some power in the resettlement decision. These political actions having wider implications in raising questions over who is responsible for flooding resettlement, communities or those in governance and civil society?