Illegality, Inc: Clandestine Migration and the Business of Bordering Europe

Illegality, Inc: Clandestine Migration and the Business of Bordering Europe

Illegality, Inc: Clandestine Migration and the Business of Bordering Europe

Illegality, Inc: Clandestine Migration and the Business of Bordering Europe

Synopsis

In this groundbreaking ethnography, Ruben Andersson, a gifted anthropologist and journalist, travels along the clandestine migration trail from Senegal and Mali to the Spanish North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Through the voices of his informants, Andersson explores, viscerally and emphatically, how Europe's increasingly powerful border regime meets and interacts with its target-the clandestine migrant. This vivid, rich work examines the subterranean migration flow from Africa to Europe, and shifts the focus from the "illegal immigrants" themselves to the vast industry built around their movements. This fascinating and accessible book is a must-read for anyone interested in the politics of international migration and the changing texture of global culture.

Excerpt

The border is as tall as a fence and as deep as the sea, yet across it migrants and refugees keep coming. This is the latest phase in the tragic spectacle of “illegal” migration from Africa to Europe, a broadcast set on repeat at the fault line between continents:

MELILLA, NORTH AFRICA. OCTOBER 2005. It was after darkness had fallen that the migrants came running towards the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Hundreds of road-weary Africans descended from their Moroccan forest encampments, threw makeshift ladders onto the border fences circling the territories, and scrambled to climb across. Silhouetted figures crowded in between the fences, cameras capturing their blurry movements between reams of barbed wire. Journalists called it el asalto masivo, the massive assault: newscasts and front pages showed the black migrants, many “violent” or “desperate,” advancing swiftly and silently. Then Moroccan or Spanish security forces—it was never clear who was responsible—fired into the crowds. At least fourteen people died. The ramshackle migrant encampments outside the enclaves were razed and burned by Moroccan soldiers; their inhabitants were rounded up, detained, and put on buses bound for the faraway Sahara. Many were never heard from again. Then controls tightened, the border was cleaned up, the media moved on. But soon a new front would open up in Europe’s “fight against illegal migration”: the sea route to the distant, improbable destination of the Spanish Canary Islands, where in . . .

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