Book Review: The Securitization of Migration and Refugee Women

By: Angelo Tramountanis, Researcher at the National Centre for Social Research (EKKE) and Phd Candidate at the Panteion University of Athens, Greece.

This post is part of the joint blog series on ‘Gender and Migration’ co-hosted by Border Criminologies and COMPAS. Posts in this series will be published on both blogs every Friday until the end of June.

book review coverIn The Securitization of Migration and Refugee Women, Alison Gerard (Routledge, 2014) discusses existing conflicts between the responsibility of a state to protect refugee populations and the securitization of migration. She argues that, in essence, these two notions seem to be mutually exclusive. States and supranational organizations such as the European Union, use the tools provided by the securitization of migration in order to curb the rights that, in other circumstances, they would be obliged to provide to individuals seeking humanitarian protection. As Jef Huysmans argues, through the process of European integration, the securitization of migration is evident in three major themes: internal security, cultural identity, and the crisis of the welfare system. Following this typology, Gerard uncovers the ways in which the securitization of migration affects the choices, lives, and strategies of those who travel to Europe in order to seek protection. She does so by focusing on the specific case of Somali women arriving in Malta.

The securitization of migration, refugee protection, gender, and irregular immigration are the key parameters through which the main research question of this book is formulated: ‘What is the impact of the securitization of migration on women’s experience across the four key stages of migration―exit, transit, arrival and onward migration’ (p. 3). In order to answer this question, Gerard has organized her work in eight chapters. In the first, she describes the current irregular migration trends, discusses the methodology she employed for her research, and gives a brief migration profile of Malta. The second and third chapters provide the conceptual framework and structural analysis of the two regimes in conflict: the securitization of migration and refugee protection. The following four chapters examine the empirical data of the impact of securitization on the experiences of migrants during the four key stages of the migration process. The last chapter returns to the key tensions and research questions, and attempts to identify the pathways necessary in order to transcend these tensions.

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What can our views on the EU reveal about our opinions on immigration?

By: Yvonni Markaki, Migration Observatory Research Officer

In this week’s COMPAS Blog I draw on my own research and the European Social Survey to discuss how our evaluations of the impacts of immigration on the UK’s economy, culture, and quality of life relate to our views on European integration and the European Parliament.

International migration to the UK is not a novel political debate. A wide range of opinion polls over the past four decades have consistently shown that immigration tends to be an unpopular political issue.  However, the EU expansions after 2004 have arguably triggered a somewhat different debate about the role of the European Union in the UK’s ability to call the shots on population movement and economic policies. The 2008 economic crisis further generated a great deal of attention to the issue of resource scarcity and the UK’s ability to accommodate a growing immigrant population in the face of cuts to public investment and services.

Most surveys of attitudes towards immigration find that the majority of respondents prefer that immigration to the UK is reduced by a lot, if not at least by a little. In my research, I find that UK-born residents are more likely to favour immigration restrictions if they live in regions with larger shares of migrants from poorer European and poorer non-European countries and smaller shares of highly skilled natives and immigrants. Other surveys show that students are seen as more beneficial than labour migrants or those coming for spousal reunification (more information here).

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What role does the EU play in influencing the development of integration policy?

By: Helen McCarthy, Research Assistant

Shifts in integration policy

Across the EU, there are wide variations between different countries in how they approach the question of integration of immigrants and their descendants. Whilst some countries (such as the UK and France) have long histories of and experience with migration, others (such as newer members like Poland) have relatively little (recent) experience with large migration inflows. In addition, different countries have very different philosophical/ideological approaches to integration, with the French Republican model that rejects group identities traditionally considered to be on one end, whilst the UK with a more ‘multicultural’ approach has been considered at the other.

globe puzzleNevertheless, recently it has been argued that integration policies across different countries are actually converging and that there are now fewer obvious differences between the different models. And this could be part of a wider shift. With increasing pressure on integration budgets and growing complexity and diversity in communities, it is increasingly hard to justify integration as a standalone policy area leading to an increase in a ‘mainstreamed’ approach to integration – so that integration priorities are simply included in more generic policy areas (see this Breakfast briefing for a discussion). Examining whether, why and how this has happened has been the focus of the UPSTREAM project and one element of the analysis has been investigating the role of the EU within this policy field.

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Border Crossings and Gender in the Greek Detention System

By: Mary Bosworth (Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford), Sharon Pickering (School of Political & Social Inquiry, Monash University), and Andriani Fili (Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford).

This post is part of the joint blog series on ‘Gender and Migration’ co-hosted by Border Criminologies and COMPAS. Posts in this series will be published on both blogs every Friday until the end of June. You can follow Mary and Sharon on Twitter @MFBosworth and @ProfSPickering.

Greece is a buffering nation where irregular entry via the Greek-Turkish border circumvents all the ‘clean’ remote control border policies favoured by Western Europe, North America and Australia, and instead produces the contested conditions of irregularly crossing borders and the police work of countering and containing unwanted irregular mobility. Greece’s porous borders make policing of the external EU border particularly demanding and present an ever challenging task to border policing experts. In this post, drawing on extensive fieldwork conducted in 2010 including interviews with migrant women and border police officers in Greece, we want to touch on some interim lines of analysis about the different ways that crossing borders is gendered and racialised. The research took place in the Attica Aliens Police Directorate at Petrou Ralli Street, which holds both women and men, as well as children, where 30 semi-structured interviews were conducted with both staff and women migrants detained there.

pic1All of the women talked about their reasons for irregular entry into Europe in terms of gender violence or responsibilities: fleeing political violence which overlapped with threats or experiences of sexual violence in conflict or post conflict situations (and most women from Africa and Iraq talked about the deaths of male family members); or economic opportunities in relation to supporting family especially dependent children in the absence of male head of household. This latter category is in line with increasing research recognising women as the most reliable and desirable migrant labour provider between the developed and developing world. Women all stated that the decisions to undertake the illicit journey were their own―they all identified Europe as a destination themselves, and had made determinations themselves as needing to travel.

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Valorised and Vilified: What Do ‘Citizens’ Do?

By: William Allen, Research Officer

This blog was first posted in the seminar series “Citizenship and Migration”, a joint series by COMPAS and Politics in Spires, on December 5. It has since been updated.

In my current work with the Centre on Migration, Policy, and Society (COMPAS), I focus on the ways that British newspapers talk about migration issues and relate these narratives to public perceptions and migration policy changes. Using techniques from corpus and computational linguistics, which enables researchers to analyse large amounts of text, I look for (ir)regularities and significant patterns of words. These contextual patterns, called ‘collocations’, can provide insight into a concept: one of the major contributors to linguistics, John Firth, famously expressed this feature of language when he said ‘you shall know a word by the company it keeps’.

wordcloud_WAApplying Firth’s guiding principle to study of UK press portrayal of migrant groups reveals that, in the case of immigrants and asylum seekers, their company is relatively negative. Dr Scott Blinder and I showed that from 2010-2012, the British national press most often described ‘immigrants’ as ‘illegal’ while portraying ‘asylum seekers’ as ‘failed’. But what about citizens? It is clear that debates about ‘who’ citizens are (as well as normative claims about who they ‘should’ be) are important to understanding the politics of citizenship. However, another fundamental question occurred to me: what do citizens do, in the context of migration? Describing the kinds of actions and activities in which citizens reportedly engage—however we may define them—opens further discussion about the nature of citizenship itself.

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