[-empyre-] Welcome to February 2016: Across borders and networks: migrants, asylum seekers, or refugee? The Numbers Now and The Number Then

Huub Dijstelbloem dijstelbloem at gmail.com
Tue Feb 9 07:25:00 AEDT 2016

Hi all,

Thanks for inviting me in this inspiring discussion. It is great to have
the opportunity to catch up with people who share an interest in borders
not just from a general migration studies perspective but as a side where
the interaction between migrants, state coercion, and technologies is
demonstrated. Forgive me if I am over-interpreting your contributions.

Ricardo asked me how I conceive today’s strategy of hotspotting certain
regions by European authorities, mainly the Aegean Sea between Greece and
Turkey where most migrants try to reach Europe, in terms of ‘visibility’
and ‘invisibility’.

Before I go into that, perhaps first some more general remarks on what has
been said here about the situation in Europe.

First of all, in addition to xenophobia I would add that many European
countries suffer from deliberate amnesia because almost all of the current
conflicts in the Middle East can be related to the war in Iraq which many
of them supported (not all).  Today’s focus on border surveillance and
mobility management is also a self-declared ignorance with regard to the
causes of the migration patterns. Europe simply has wiped out its own role
in recent history and refuses to take responsibility for what it has done
in the past.

Secondly, Europe now faces the consequences of a total neglect of
transitions that have been going on for at least two decades in the Middle
East. The growth of the population, the consequences of drought and climate
change which has driven many to the cities, the weakly maintained
relationships whit Islamic groups, the ambivalent support for dictatorial
regimes, the not so silent take-over of regimes over states: Europe looked
the other way when it could have helped to prevent some causes of the
current crisis.

Thirdly, what I just referred to myself as a crisis is a logical
consequence of certain developments.  Even the coming into being of the
Aegean as a hotspot could be predicted – as many of my colleagues did.
Coming from Syria, the way through Libya to reach the Italian islands of
Lampedusa and Sicily is too long and too dangerous. The route over the
Turkeys mainland to Greece what blocked two years ago by the latter by the
Evros fence (Evros is the river that divides Turkey from Greece in that
part).  With the South-West and the North-East passage blocked, the Aegean
logically became the short cut in this funnel.

Fourthly, Europe is now confronted with the bankruptcy of its policy of
rebordering, namely the attempt to combine open internal borders (Schengen
treaty) with closed external ones. It has completely overlooked how
artificial it is to define certain regions, such as the Aegean, as borders
only because they look like a border when you loo at the Mediterranean from
a North-West perspective.

Allow me to elaborate on that a bit longer. The historian Ferdinand
Braudel’s famous suggestion supported by the cartographer Bertin to picture
the Mediterranean upside down already demonstrated that historically the
sea ought to be regarded as a collection of cultural, economic and social
transactions, not so much with a solid consistency but as a hybrid
geography with a multiple history.

Over the last centuries, however, the Mediterranean has increasingly become
regarded as a ‘European lake’ that no longer ought to function as a ‘middle
passage’ from the South to the North or a bridge but is conceived as a
boundary instead. As a result, the Mediterranean Sea has become the
deadliest stretch of water in the world for people on the move. Every year,
hundreds of people lose their lives trying to reach EU-territories. In
2014, according to the United Nations (UNHCR, 1 December, 2014) at least
3419 people drowned or went missing while attempting to cross the sea from
the African continent. Depending on the starting date, the sources being
used and the location and cause of death, estimates of the number of people
who have died vary from 17,000 - 20,000 since the early 1990s (UNHCR, 31
January, 2012).

And that was all well before the current crisis really got started.

Sorry, I was drawn into some considerations about the situation in Europe
and have not even started answering Ricardo’s questions. I will save that
for my next post,



Academia - https://amsterdam.academia.edu/HuubDijstelbloem

2016-02-08 14:27 GMT+01:00 Babak Fakhamzadeh <babak.fakhamzadeh at gmail.com>:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hey Ricardo, all,
> Yeah, I can understand your reluctance of accepting my putting down
> xenophobia to human nature. If true, that could make it indeed much
> easier to allow for its existence.
> That said, I do think there's ample evidence that fear of those that
> are noticeably different is ingrained. Here's an old article that
> talks about this:
> https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200305/why-we-fear-the-unknown
> I think it was Easterly in 'The Tyranny of Experts'
> (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18210744-the-tyranny-of-experts)
> (correct me if I'm wrong) who gives a bunch of interesting examples of
> people's natural tendency to classify those around them through
> in-groups and out-groups. He shows that this easily results in
> autocratically governed societies that are also economically more
> rigid and stratified, meaning that, though it's more efficient and
> better for everyone to avoid this classification, without a stronger
> state that's able to channel society, it's very easy, if perhaps even
> unavoidable, for this xenophobia to take root.
> Everything is of course interconnected. Harsher economic times hurt
> the lower classes more readily, who seek to protect themselves,
> through scapegoats and otherwise, on which feeling others build to
> further their own agenda. While these others might be the cause for
> the harsher economic times, to begin with.
> Meanwhile, technology that was supposed to 'set us free' is being used
> to enforce conforming to the rules and regulations of those in power.
> Which might be fine enough if you live in a liberal democracy, but is
> less ideal if you're in, say, Saudi Arabia. Or if it allows
> inscrutable government bodies to do their own bidding, unchecked.
> Ricardo, I think your question is a good one: "What happens to us and
> flowing communities as globalization becomes borderization?"
> This can be nuanced, as this borderization is very relative: Many
> groups of states have never seen fewer borders and fewer border
> controls. Yet, the creation of in- and out-groups on a cross-national
> scale, has perhaps never been greater, either.
> So, perhaps, our 'islands' become larger, but it becomes less easy to
> move from island to island?
> Babak
> --
> Babak Fakhamzadeh | babak.fakhamzadeh at gmail.com |
> http://BabakFakhamzadeh.com
> Ask me for my PGP public key to send me encrypted email.
> On Mon, Feb 8, 2016 at 10:33 AM, Ricardo Dominguez <rrdominguez at ucsd.edu>
> wrote:
> > Hola Babak y Tod at s,
> >
> > Yes, I agree with you, the sense of class-structure (middle-class social
> > mirroring) does allow for
> > integration is a less conscious manner the "standard" E.U. citizen.
> >
> > I am not sure about the anchoring this standard mirroring response to
> > class-difference
> > as a product of "human nature" though. This creates a type of border that
> > cannot be crossed.
> > This allows the "racist" or xenophobic cultures of fear and the politics
> of
> > fear to be understood
> > as "natural" responses to manufactured "crisis" over the last few
> decades or
> > even more
> > specifically since World War II. Often as not produced by European
> polices
> > and actions over the
> > long haul of the 20th century.
> >
> > Yet, as you point out, the crisis becomes even more layered in its in
> > ability to control
> > calls of E.U. austerity policies and immigration response systems-the
> Greek
> > question.
> >
> > What happens to us and flowing communities as globalization becomes
> > borderization?
> >
> > Borders are internalized and externalized, detention camp cultures
> continue
> > to be the standard (Ana note points out),
> > and profits are maximized.
> >
> > And as always for us in the 21st century virtual fences become a fetish
> > strategy.
> >
> > Here in the U.S. we have similar border extension policies under the
> Obama
> > Administration:
> >
> > "Plan Frontera Sur, as the Mexican government’s campaign is called,
> serves
> > as a first line of defense for the United States. Deportations have
> soared
> > in the last year, while the arrests of Central American migrants in this
> > country have more than doubled to more than 170,000 last year from about
> > 78,000 in 2013."
> >
> >
> http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/08/world/americas/mexico-migrants-central-america.html
> >
> > These extension of U.S. borders then forces migrants, asylum seekers, and
> > refugee into a very long and deadly Devil's Highway.
> >
> > Very best,
> > Ricardo
> >
> >
> >
> > On 2/7/16 6:21 PM, Babak Fakhamzadeh wrote:
> >
> > ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> > Hey Ricardo, all,
> >
> > It's true that the numbers related to the current refugee crisis
> > surrounding Syria are not as excessive as during the second world war.
> > In relative terms, with Europe at about 550 million inhabitants around
> > 1940 compared to 730 million now, the scope was even bigger, then.
> >
> > Yet, there are also significant differences such that just looking at
> > the numbers is not fair to either event. During the second world war,
> > Europe itself was in turmoil, whereas surrounding the Syrian refugee
> > crisis, the turmoil is wholly happening outside of Europe's borders.
> > Second, the differences between Syrian refugees and, say, the average
> > Dutchman (which of course doesn't really exist), now, is probably
> > bigger, and occurring on a wider scope, than the differences between,
> > say, the Czech and, say, Polish middle class during or close to the
> > second world war. It's simply easier to reconcile oneself with others
> > who are more similar than with those who are more different. That's
> > not a matter of being racist, it's human nature. To go beyond that, to
> > step over that prejudice, if you will, takes effort and has to be done
> > consciously.
> >
> > As you suggest, Ricardo, there might be a greater neo-liberalist plan
> > to profit from all this, but that also doesn't automatically mean that
> > the crisis is fabricated in order to make a profit. It seems to me
> > there's a lot of opportunism and incompetence at work. As well as
> > convenient negligence by the media, but all these are other stories.
> >
> > But, none of this says anything about what the not-so-distant future
> > might bring. Will western Europe's xenophobic flames be fanned by the
> > relatively large influx of non-Europeans?
> >
> > Babak
> >
> > --
> > Babak Fakhamzadeh | babak.fakhamzadeh at gmail.com |
> > http://BabakFakhamzadeh.com
> >
> > Ask me for my PGP public key to send me encrypted email.
> >
> >
> > On Sun, Feb 7, 2016 at 1:22 PM, Ricardo Dominguez <rrdominguez at ucsd.edu>
> > wrote:
> >
> > ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> > Hola Tod at s and Babak,
> >
> > I look forward to our dialogue about how the history of "kinopolitics"
> (the
> > politics of movement)
> > will re-produce segmentation and segregation or integration and
> citizenship
> > (Echoes of Rome)?
> > Or perhaps some other unexpected social formations will happen beyond
> these
> > histories
> > (my anti-anti-utopain tendencies speaking here).
> >
> > Of course the processes of integration vs. segregation does seem to
> depend
> > on where the
> > movement and flows starts and to lesser degree where it ends.
> >
> > If you look at numbers of recent flows of communities into the E.U.
> starting
> > from World War II to the
> > present moment the numbers flowing are worth considering.
> >
> > The movement of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees was over 15
> million
> > between
> > 1939 to 1945, while right now Syrians leaving the wars zones number
> around
> > 4.1 million
> > since 2010. One can add a few million more flowing away from other
> conflict
> > zones north
> > to the E.U. and these current numbers are not even close to reaching the
> > numbers of migrants,
> > asylum seekers, or refugee that occurred during WWII:
> >
> > https://newint.org/features/2016/01/01/global-refugee-crisis-the-facts/
> >
> > (The link to an infographic that might be useful to consider.)
> >
> > So the "crisis" is not about the "numbers"-but about the social imaginary
> > anchored on to
> > the bodies that moving that are activating violent atavistic response
> > (racist politics) that
> > neo-liberalism(ism) can profits from via private detention centers and
> > prisons and
> > corporate controlled border gates.
> >
> > So it is not about the numbers or the facts of crossing-but the where
> they
> > coming
> > from that is the "crisis."
> >
> > Ricardo
> >
> >
> > On 2/7/16 2:29 AM, Babak Fakhamzadeh wrote:
> >
> > ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> > Hi all,
> >
> > We've got quite a big topic on our hands, making it harder to single
> > out a particular angle or narrative. Perhaps not an unreasonable
> > starting point is the current refugee crisis in Europe. As Renate in
> > the opening email hints at, Rome was at its peak when it actively
> > incorporated the peoples, barbarians perhaps, on their frontiers,
> > Caesar himself extending Roman citizenship to the Gauls and others.
> >
> > Europe has been a continent of immigrants, virtually all 'native'
> > Europeans originally descending from immigrants coming in from the
> > Eurasian plains(, with perhaps only the Basques being the exception).
> > So, in many ways, the recent new arrivals coming in from the direction
> > of the Middle East are just the latest in a long line of immigrants.
> > Yet, the negative European backlash is strong. Perhaps driven by the
> > recent and, also strong, undercurrent of xenophobia in many European
> > countries, the 'otherness' of the Syrian arrivals is emphasised and
> > their presence actively resisted.
> >
> > Now, I wonder, my question to us on the list, what are the
> > consequences of the arrival of this sizeable group of immigrants going
> > to be, for Europe, over the next 5 to, say, 10 years? Will the whole
> > issue simply fizzle out and the immigrants simply be integrated? Will
> > the EU fall apart? Will some countries secede from the Union? Will
> > some countries turn into virtual police states?
> > And, why?
> >
> > And, related, how are those countries that do take in larger number of
> > immigrants going to deal with making sure their integration is not
> > going to be botched in the same way that Germany, Holland and France
> > botched the integration of specifically Turkish and Moroccan
> > immigrants in the 1960s and onwards?
> >
> > Looking forward to the responses :)
> >
> > Babak
> >
> > --
> > Babak Fakhamzadeh | babak.fakhamzadeh at gmail.com |
> > http://BabakFakhamzadeh.com
> >
> > Ask me for my PGP public key to send me encrypted email.
> > _______________________________________________
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