Round Table: Autonomy of Migration: Assessing Migrant Agency in a Globalized World

The event is part of the seminar series Migration in a Global Perspective and will take place on January 10th, Room 102, Faculty of Sociology and Social Assistance, Panduri Campus, at 17.00.

This round table brings into discusion the approach callled “autonomy of migration,”, which views migration as an independent force that is capable of social and political transformations. The “autonomy of migration” intends to liberate research on migration from some of the prevailing frameworks in migration studies, e.g. humanitarianism, securitization, migration management, labour market, etc. Autonomy of migration is as well an activist-research nexus that has developed primarily in Europe, connecting scholarly and activist worlds. The approach is based on several assumptions: 1.Migration is not a response to political and economic necessities, but a social fact that mobilizes a full spectrum of creativity in human agency; 2. Migration precedes its control – border controls and security checks are techniques that come afterwards and are a response to the movements of migrants. 3. The borders are not at all impenetrable walls – we have to reimagine and rethink what is the border and its relationship to migration; 4. The refusal to frame migration within the discourse of victimization (migrants are powerless) or security (migrants are dangerous), privileging instead the voice and subjectivity of migrants; 5. Escape and migrants’ invisibility are viewed as a productive practice that is generative of new modes of being in the world, while visibility, integration, inclusion are rejected. This approach generated many criticisms: autonomists have been criticized for downplaying the repression and violence involved in border controls, for romanticizing the experience of migration, for homogenization of the border, for the high level of abstraction used when discussing the agency of the migrant, and for failing to situate in context the  migrant struggles for mobility and rights. However, the criticism does not diminish the concept’s relevance and its innovative perspective on migration. This round table discusses the “autonomy of migration” approach within migration studies and critically assesses whether the concept can be mobilized to understand how the political agency and subjectivity of migrants are constituted beyond the imaginary of the nation-state and in a globalized world.

Round table speakers: Irene Peano,  Dragoș Ciulinaru, Tamara Cărăuș

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