American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting (AAG) 2018, New Orleans, LA, April 10-14th 2018

Recent and emerging work by critical geography and migration studies scholars examines the incremental, ongoing, everyday, and seemingly banal sites and spaces where forms of commodification, dispossession, and destitution are (re)produced in immigration enforcement and in migration control and management. Scholarship on migration ‘hotspots’ at Europe’s external borders and polymorphic borders (Burridge et al. 2017; Martin and Prokkola, 2017; SocietyandSpace.org Nov 8, 2016), for example, describes how states and power are respatialized and reconfigured to produce flexible, surreptitious, and possibly unintended forms of control. In addition, research that goes beyond privatization of immigration enforcement and management examines how bureaucratized, commoditized domopolitics are embedded with the experiences of detained migrants and asylum seekers on a daily basis (see Mountz, 2010; Darling, 2011; Conlon and Hiemstra, 2016; Gill, 2016). Critical analyses of the intersections between (humanitarian) care and control also explore how precarious, insecure, or clandestine forms of subsistence for destitute asylum seekers as well as other irregular migrants have become increasingly commonplace (Martin, 2015; Coddington, 2017; Lewis et al. 2015; Williams and Massaro, 2016; Mayblin, 2017).

Fundamental to this work is attention to political economies alongside a feminist political geographical focus on the everyday workings of states and other agents and institutions of power. Within this framework, economies are understood to incorporate and also to exceed more traditional approaches to political economy. Here, economies are taken to be about production and exchange; yet, simultaneously they are linked to social, cultural, intersectional, and intimate relationships that manifest in uneven and complicated ways (see Gilmore, 2007; Wilson, 2012; Pratt and Rosner, 2012; Katz, 2015). This work is also attentive to the slow violence (see Nixon, 2011; Pain, 2014; Cahill et al. forthcoming) of current policy and practice in immigration enforcement and control. Work on the reproduction of precariousness through immigration enforcement therefore highlights the everyday, continual, staggered, and oft-invisible iterations of structural violence that irregular migrants and other marginalized groups encounter relentlessly in their day-to-day lives. We identify the production of ‘destitution economies,’ the sites, spaces and practices where precarity and slow violence are (re)produced and enacted for irregular migrants, as a key element of life for irregular migrants today.

This paper session aims to build upon these urgent concerns and emergent research contributions by bringing together political economic, feminist geographic, and interdisciplinary work on sites, spaces and practices where (irregular) migration and destitution economies converge.  We invite submissions from those thinking about destitution economies and/or engaged in related research and activism. Possible themes may address (but are not limited to) these questions:

  • Where do destitution economies take shape? How might they be identified, mapped, and accounted for?
  • How, precisely, do destitution economies work? How do forms of migration management rely on destitution economies and also help to produce them? How are they configured? What are their logics and/or limits?
  • Who is involved in operating destitution economies? What roles do different state / non-state agencies and actors play? What is gained (or lost) with their involvement?
  • What are the short term and longer-term effects and impacts of destitution economies vis-à-vis migrant everyday life, migration management/control, and for critical conceptions of the same?
  • What methodological challenges and opportunities are presented by ‘destitution economies’?
  • How are / might critical researchers and migrant support activists/advocates work (together) to challenge or disrupt the slow, incremental, and frequently invisible violence that destitution economies effect?

Please send title and abstract of no more than 250 words by Friday October 20th 2017.

Abstracts and inquiries should be sent to: Deirdre Conlon d.conlon@leeds.ac.uk and Kate Coddington kate.coddington@durham.ac.uk