Mojca Pajnik: Good evening. I will dis­cuss aspects of transna­tion­al­ism by main­ly explor­ing the notion of cit­i­zen­ship. Citizenship as a con­cept and also as a prac­tice nor­ma­tive­ly actu­al­ly stands for activ­i­ty in the pub­lic sphere, activ­i­ty in the polit­i­cal field, and it stands for mem­ber­ship in a polit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ty of equals. So this is an aspi­ra­tion with­in the notion of cit­i­zen­ship that we some­times for­get, because when we think of cit­i­zen­ship nowa­days, we most­ly see it as a con­test­ed notion for it being reduced to an admin­is­tra­tive cri­te­ri­on that is actu­al­ly selec­tive­ly dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed: inclu­sion in, or exclu­sion from the nation-state mem­ber­ship, from priv­i­leged mem­ber­ship of Western nation-states.

Photos of some European airport international arrivals areas, with signage for EU/UK passports and "all other passports"

I would argue that postmodern—so con­tem­po­rary, or sup­posed demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­eties that are char­ac­ter­ized by what could be called the hol­low­ing out of democ­ra­cy, the hol­low­ing out of demo­c­ra­t­ic poten­tial, have actu­al­ly enthroned cit­i­zen­ship as pass­port iden­ti­ty; we’ve already heard in James’ talk. And enthron­ing pass­port iden­ti­ty seems today… It has been repro­duc­ing a never-so-profound dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion between those with the right pass­port and those with the wrong one; those from the West and those con­sti­tut­ing the rest; those con­sti­tut­ing the we” and those mar­gin­al­ized as the oth­er. And you know, we could go along mak­ing sim­i­lar analogies. 

I will now dis­cuss how such dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion has been repro­duced and what it brings. I will call dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion prin­ci­ples and I will explore basi­cal­ly how nation-states have actu­al­ly enthroned cit­i­zen­ship as pass­port iden­ti­ty; how nation-states have actu­al­ly been rob­bing the poten­tial of cit­i­zen­ship from its equality-oriented aspi­ra­tions. And if we bring migra­tion in this dis­cus­sion, look­ing at how migra­tion is actu­al­ly man­aged today, how nation-states are man­ag­ing migra­tion, one would observe that migra­tion is pre­dom­i­nant­ly framed or under­stood as a sab­o­tage. It is under­stood as an unprece­dent­ed breach of bor­dered ter­ri­to­ri­al­i­ty and a breach of docile labor. 

So basi­cal­ly we are see­ing when we look at the reac­tions of the nation-states to migra­tion, to mobil­i­ty, we are see­ing that this nexus—migration/mobility—is actu­al­ly con­ceived as a threat to sovereignty. 

Consequently, the pri­ma­ry con­cern of hold­ers of pow­er is actu­al­ly how to make mobile subjects—so-called ungovern­able subjects—how to make them gov­erned. So turn­ing mobile sub­jec­tiv­i­ties into gov­erned indi­vid­u­als, basi­cal­ly this is the way to con­trol mobil­i­ty. And this is actu­al­ly also the way to sub­or­di­nate mobil­i­ty to fit var­i­ous nation­al­ist ide­olo­gies or labor mar­ket pro­duc­tiv­i­ty goals. 

I will now dis­cuss these four dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion strate­gies that are facil­i­tat­ing such goals. The first strat­e­gy can be called cat­e­go­riza­tion of cit­i­zen­ship or cat­e­go­riza­tion of people. 

Taking the exam­ple of migra­tion man­age­ment, we can see how states have pro­duced metic­u­lous cat­e­go­riza­tion of migrants into var­i­ous groups. So we have asy­lum seek­ers, refugees, ille­gal migrants, fam­i­ly reunion migrants, undoc­u­ment­ed migrants, work migrants, and the list goes on. Some of these cat­e­gories when you look at them more close­ly have a legal back­up. They have appeared as legal cat­e­gories and they are by law actu­al­ly used to lim­it human rights, to lim­it mobil­i­ty, for some of the cat­e­gories.” For exam­ple the case of the cat­e­go­ry” of the refugee or the asy­lum seeker.

On the oth­er hand, we see some of the cat­e­gories that do not nec­es­sar­i­ly have a legal back­ing but that have how­ev­er found wide­spread legit­imiza­tion in polit­i­cal dis­course and the relat­ed pub­lic and media dis­course, where they func­tion as metaphors for migrants,” for those over there, for the second-class people—for exam­ple the cat­e­go­ry of an eco­nom­ic migrant, or the cat­e­go­ry of an ille­gal or an undoc­u­ment­ed migrant. It is not actu­al­ly a legal cat­e­go­ry per se but has been used wide­ly, first­ly in the polit­i­cal and then in the media dis­course to again repro­duce differentiation. 

These cat­e­go­riza­tions, when we look at them what do they tell us? They point to pri­or­i­ti­za­tion of status-based cit­i­zen­ship ver­sus what could be called human-based, what could be viewed as human-based cit­i­zen­ship. And by doing so they’re actu­al­ly ground­ing the legit­i­ma­cy of the peo­ple’s exis­tence on the pre­described sta­tus­es, where one’s life is actu­al­ly depen­dent on the hold­ing of a spe­cif­ic sta­tus or the lack of a spe­cif­ic status.

So by doing so, cat­e­go­riza­tion regimes have actu­al­ly pro­duced cat­e­gories of under­peo­ple who are viewed in the words of the ris­ing pop­ulist polit­i­cal par­ties across Europe but also glob­al­ly, who have for exam­ple declared that of mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism as impos­si­ble sub­jects of inte­gra­tion.” This is how the main­stream polit­i­cal speech in the pre­dom­i­nant polit­i­cal elite goes. So migrants are being viewed as impos­si­ble sub­jects to be inte­grat­ed. They’re viewed as such for the ascribed dif­fer­ence, the ascribed alleged­ly dif­fer­ent cul­ture, dif­fer­ent cus­toms and so on that obvi­ous­ly does not fit the norms of the civ­i­lized West. 

The sec­ond dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion strat­e­gy that I want to address can be called the con­trac­tu­al­iza­tion of cit­i­zen­ship. Let me make an exam­ple from migra­tion stud­ies. If a female migrant, a woman migrant, if we look at her we see that she’s depen­dent on the set of con­di­tions that go along with her spe­cif­ic sta­tus, if she seeks asy­lum, then sta­tis­tics tell us that she has less than 1% chance of being admit­ted into a sta­tus of refugee. Once get­ting the sta­tus of a refugee, the host country—so the state where she cur­rent­ly lives—decides the con­di­tions under which she can work, whether she can work. The state defines the con­di­tions if and under what terms she can get edu­ca­tion and so on and so forth. 

The sys­tem is actu­al­ly con­di­tion­ing her life with more…it’s invent­ing new require­ments for her to final­ly be able to fit in but this actu­al­ly nev­er hap­pens. I like this Balibarian notion you know, once a migrant always a migrant.” So the sys­tem has been repro­duc­ing the cat­e­go­ry of migration.

As an exam­ple I have the­ma­tized the cre­ation of migrants as wast­ed pre­cari­at, wast­ed pre­car­i­ty, in line with Zygmunt Bauman’s notion of the wast­ed humans, argu­ing that migrant pre­cariza­tion is orches­trat­ed at the inter­sec­tion of immi­grant sta­tus first. Second, the gov­er­nance of migra­tion and labor. And third, the fea­tures of the indus­tries that actu­al­ly employ migrant work­ers. We can see that the func­tion of this tri­an­gu­la­tion, the con­trac­tu­al, illu­sion­ary inclu­sion of mobile pop­u­la­tions, is actu­al­ly to cre­ate dif­fer­ent sub­jects of labor. This allows nation-states to care­ful­ly select the want­ed from the unwant­ed migrants, and we have been see­ing a trend glob­al­ly of chan­nel­ing migrant labor force into the so-called 3D jobs—so dirty, dan­ger­ous, and demanding. 

In these books we have referred to the cir­cu­lar con­di­tion­al­i­ty of migrants’ life that is actu­al­ly blunt­ly point­ing to what con­trac­tu­al­iza­tion of cit­i­zen­ship actu­al­ly means. Without a per­mit for work it’s not pos­si­ble to obtain a res­i­dence per­mit. If one does not have a res­i­dence per­mit, then your work­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties are lim­it­ed. If you don’t have a res­i­dence per­mit you’re not admit­ted to be fit for cit­i­zen­ship. If you don’t have cit­i­zen­ship, then you can­not be part of the med­ical insur­ance schemes, and so on and so forth. 

The third strat­e­gy of dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion that I want to dis­cuss can be called crim­mi­gra­tion. Generally, crim­mi­gra­tion points to the con­ver­gence of migra­tion laws and puni­tive laws. Or in oth­er terms, crim­mi­gra­tion exem­pli­fies con­tem­po­rary trends of crim­i­nal­iza­tion of mobility. 

Photos of various national borders, eg. razor wire in Slovenia, the wall between the US and Mexico, etc.

Various strate­gies can be observed as with­in this notion of crim­mi­gra­tion. One is the strength­en­ing of bor­der regimes while bor­ders, as I will try to show a bit lat­er, can have very dif­fer­ent mean­ings. One can play around the bor­ders, but his­tor­i­cal­ly we can admit that bor­ders have been an insti­tu­tion­al means for safe­guard­ing the rule of exclu­sion. The ter­ri­to­r­i­al bor­ders in this con­text appear as spaces where dif­fer­ences are repro­duced or as spaces where peo­ple are divid­ed and sort­ed. And con­se­quent­ly bor­ders in this con­text appear as man­i­fes­ta­tions of hege­mo­ny and its pres­sure to normalization. 

The pow­er to admit or to exclude non-citizens is inher­ent in bor­der sov­er­eign­ty, and late­ly if we look at the European con­text but also glob­al­ly, it seems that we are wit­ness­ing the hys­te­ria of bor­der­ing. For exam­ple rebor­der­ing at the sea, build­ing dou­ble or triple fences on land, togeth­er with soft, elec­tron­ic fingerprint-related bor­der­ing that are all strate­gies that are being legit­imized as secu­ri­ti­za­tion poli­cies. But we clear­ly speak here of state secu­ri­ti­za­tion, and the oppo­site would be human secu­ri­ti­za­tion. So bor­ders actu­al­ly here, by pur­su­ing secu­ri­ty and by repro­duc­ing the dan­ger­ous oth­er, can appear as a mech­a­nism of insti­tu­tion­al racism that is actu­al­ly erad­i­cat­ing, in Rancièr’s terms, the dif­fer­ence between the police and politics”—politics, poli­cies, has become polic­ing, basically. 

Other strate­gies of bor­der­ing include camps. Detention camps, refugee camps. The map here shows the steep rise in the num­ber of for­eign­ers’ camps in the last fif­teen years in a European con­text. We know that camps have been gen­tri­fied, built at the out­skirts usu­al­ly of life, and that as Foucauldian islands of the [fools?] are usu­al­ly sit­u­at­ed at the out­skirts of urban set­tle­ments. Often they do not have Internet facil­i­ties, med­ical care, legal advice. All these ser­vices are lim­it­ed. Meaning that indi­vid­u­als who are liv­ing there in a way have been robbed of their dig­ni­ty, and the bor­der­ing of the camps, peo­ple have been liv­ing with bare life” in the terms of Giorgio Agamben. 

And yet, we can see when we look at the polit­i­cal dis­course that camps have been cel­e­brat­ed as sol­i­dar­i­ty or as assis­tance of the glob­al­ized West, which to put it mild­ly can be viewed as lan­guage manipulation. 

I will move to the third strat­e­gy of dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion that I want to address, that can be called exter­nal­iza­tion of bor­ders. The exam­ple is the state agree­ments. For exam­ple the European Union a cou­ple of years ago had made an agree­ment with Libya, fol­lowed by an agree­ment with Morocco. Or if I men­tion the recent agree­ment of the European Union and Turkey, accord­ing to which Turkey has been keep­ing in camps more than two mil­lion peo­ple at the doors of the European Union. Here we can see that the EU from the posi­tion of the rule-maker actu­al­ly has been col­o­niz­ing the east and the south as the rule-taker by adopt­ing agree­ments to actu­al­ly stop mobil­i­ty or pre­vent­ing mobil­i­ty, before mobil­i­ty reach­es the bor­ders of the European Union.

By now I have most­ly addressed the polit­i­cal, the legal ways of con­struct­ing transna­tion­al­ism. But there is anoth­er way—which James has also men­tioned before—that I think is repro­duc­ing the out­comes, and that is by means of polit­i­cal, by means of media dis­course, and we are see­ing when media are report­ing about migra­tion, the spec­tac­u­lar­iza­tion of this phe­nom­e­non, which is large­ly an adopt­ed pop­ulist strat­e­gy both being adopt­ed by the polit­i­cal elite and the main­stream media.

When the polit­i­cal elite of the European Union began to pro­claim a secu­ri­ty threat by so-called mas­sive” migra­tion in 2015, 2016, dur­ing the func­tion­ing of the Balkan route, they con­ve­nient­ly oper­at­ed with the cat­e­go­ry of an eco­nom­ic migrant. It was inter­est­ing to see how he,” the mas­culin­i­ty was very pro­claimed here—was sym­bol­iz­ing a threats pen­e­trat­ing the alleged­ly eth­ni­cal­ly homo­ge­neous nation, threat­en­ing domes­tic work­ers, tak­ing away their jobs and social secu­ri­ty and so on. 

While on the oth­er hand, when the EU want­ed to show its human­i­tar­i­an, you know, more sol­i­dar­i­ty face, then the cat­e­go­ry of the refugee has been intro­duced into the dis­course. And this cat­e­go­ry actu­al­ly had this com­pas­sion at the moment. The dis­course was changed. Women and refugee chil­dren came into the debate. We need to feed the chil­dren, we need to take care of them,” but here we saw that the tol­er­ance end­ed. So not hun­gry any­more, we saw in the polit­i­cal dis­course that they should move for­ward or they would be, accord­ing to the sta­tus­es that we have dis­cussed before, deport­ed. We sym­pa­thize but if I quote the Slovenian Prime Minister, our inte­gra­tion capac­i­ties are lim­it­ed.” He was say­ing this and the media have been repeat­ing this. 

In the con­clud­ing remarks I would like to go back to the idea of transna­tion­al­ism and cit­i­zen­ship. And we can see that both these con­cepts, both these ideas, have become in the last ten or fif­teen years key­words in claims to sur­pass the state-centric per­spec­tive on ter­ri­to­ry, state-centric per­spec­tive on the under­stand­ing of the state and on human life. Still, we have shown how sig­nif­i­cant for­mal cit­i­zen­ship is [when one?] fails to fit a spe­cif­ic cat­e­go­ry, when a sta­tus is denied. So how this repro­duces pre­car­i­ty in the hier­ar­chy of an unequal cit­i­zen­ship market. 

Transnationalism I think has the poten­tial to actu­al­ly enact and to stim­u­late a trans­for­ma­tive agency…I mean stim­u­lat­ing us to think about the mul­ti­lay­ered sub­jec­tiv­i­ties con­test­ing the idea of scalar iden­ti­ties or of nest­ed iden­ti­ties. And migrants are embody­ing I think these ideas. 

Autonomy of migra­tion (Tsianos & Papadopoulos, 2013);
Border as a method (Mezzadra & Nielson 2013)

I would like to refer briefly to the lit­er­a­ture on auton­o­my of migra­tion that has been put for­ward about a decade ago. This lit­er­a­ture is inter­est­ing because it has taught us to view sub­jects on the move not as vic­tims, obvi­ous­ly, but as so-called nomads of the present” who are dis­rupt­ing cer­tain­ties, who are break­ing the rules, not at least who are cross­ing the bor­ders, who are rup­tur­ing the sta­tus quo and by doing so who actu­al­ly bring pos­si­bil­i­ties for crit­i­cal­ly rethink­ing con­tem­po­rary sit­u­a­tions and also think of future aspirations.

The mobile com­mons (Tsianos & Papadopoulos, 2013);
The con­nect­ed migrant (Diminescou, 2008);
Nano-media (Pajnik & Downing, 2008)

My Greek col­leagues from the MigNet project that was a project on migra­tion, Internet, and gen­der have pro­duced a video game, Banoptikon, which sim­u­lates migra­tion sit­u­a­tions which take place at bor­der cross­ings or in rur­al areas in cities, but above all which affect human bod­ies, as we’ve already heard today.

Bodies are actu­al­ly becom­ing the sub­ject on which con­trol is applied, and bod­ies today actu­al­ly remain the basic topos also to coun­ter­act con­trol. And these bod­ies, the trans­mi­grant, the transna­tion­al bod­ies don’t fit, obvi­ous­ly, the typ­i­cal pic­ture of the vic­tim, or migrant as a vic­tim, or the typ­i­cal pic­ture of migrant as a per­pe­tra­tor, as being a vio­lent per­son that is often repro­duced in the polit­i­cal discourse. 

Just one minute to stop, with some new con­cepts that I think are chal­leng­ing and that are relat­ed to the utopias of transna­tion­al­ism. For exam­ple the idea of the mobile com­mons. Mobile com­mons is actu­al­ly address­ing mobil­i­ty pop­u­la­tions who are exchang­ing knowl­edge on mobil­i­ty. We are see­ing migrants that actu­al­ly exchange knowl­edge about bor­der cross­ings, about routes. We see migrant tac­tics that are escap­ing sur­veil­lance regimes, for exam­ple that escap­ing fin­ger­print­ing. We see migrants prac­tic­ing con­nec­tiv­i­ty by using nano­me­dia, by using var­i­ous tech­no­log­i­cal devices, as well as mouth-to-mouth strat­e­gy which can which can embody the notion of the con­nect­ed migrant. So it’s far from migrant being a vic­tim, but is pro­duc­ing anoth­er set of think­ing where we see migrants as active sub­jec­tiv­i­ties that are actu­al­ly pur­su­ing the idea of world cit­i­zen­ship, welt­bürg­er­recht” in the terms of Immanuel Kant, which is meant to sig­ni­fy not a bright utopia or an ide­al life that is lift­ed away or that has noth­ing to do with real­i­ty. To the con­trary, we can see this trans­mi­grat­ing sub­jec­tiv­i­ty actu­al­ly rein­vent­ing what can be seen as world­li­ness of peo­ple, right, where peo­ple are judged by human secu­ri­ty and not to by nation-state secu­ri­ty. Thank you.


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