Round Table: Is Migration a Security Threat?

Round table participants: Marian Zulean (Director of Social Science Division, ICUB), Mihai Sebe (European Institute of Romania), Marius Ghincea (Central European University),  Patrick Rus (Univeristy of Bucharest), Dragos Ciulinaru (University of Bucharest), Tamara Caraus (ICUB).

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The event is part of the seminar series Migration in a Global Perspective and will take place on June 20, Room 102, Faculty of Sociology and Social Assistance, Panduri Campus, Șoseaua Panduri 90, at 17.00.

In the last decade, migration is increasingly interpreted as a security problem. Migration has made its way to the forefront of the security agendas of several states, particularly in Europe and North America. The security paradigm became a frequent approach in the production of knowledge about migration. Analysts from both migration studies and security studies approach the migration-security nexus by conceptualizing security as a value to be achieved, at the same time portraying migrants as societal, economic, internal, and public security threats. This turn to security prism reflects the changes both in the nature of migration, as well as in the ways of thinking about migration: while it was previously considered to be a social and economic phenomenon, migration is now pivotal in debates surrounding global security and politics. However, in the academia, the migration-security nexus turned out to be a contested one. Migration scholars have shown that securitizing migration produces exclusions, violence, and inequalities and reduces the political and social complexity of migration to the strategic interaction between states. Critical discourses have described the process of securitization of migration as socially constructing without reflecting the real dangers. Other authors showed that statistical data do not support the claim that migration is a security risk, however analytical accuracy has not undermined the consensus among political leaders, bureaucracies and parts of general public that migration is a security risk. So, the critics of the security paradigm on migration claim further that the force of the securitization of migration comes from the “spontaneous” spread of intolerance and racist prejudice over large groups of people, that the relation between security and migration is fully and immediately political, and the migration-security nexus is used to mobilize political responses, not to explain or produce impartial knowledge about migration as a phenomenon.

This round table will focus on the migration-security nexus, re-examining the claim that migration is a threat to security by addressing the following questions: To what extent can migration be conceived of as security issue? What are the reasons of the persistent framing of migration in terms of security? What kind of insecurities does migration raise, when and for whom or what? Is migration constructed and perceived as a security threat or it is a real, objective danger? Whose security is relevant in this debate – states or humans, countries of destination or countries of transit and origin? What is the impact of framing migration in terms of security? How neutral and impartial is an academic discourse framing migration through the prism of securitization? Does this academic discourse produce politically neutral knowledge about migration, or does it contribute to the governmental management and control of migration? How can a critical analysis of mobility be developed out of the nexus of migration and security?

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