Academic journal article Social Justice

No Border: Games with(out) Frontiers

Academic journal article Social Justice

No Border: Games with(out) Frontiers

Article excerpt

Introduction

THE CHANGING LANDSCAPE OF MIGRATION CONTROL IN EUROPE IS BY NOW WELL documented. A sizeable body of work has examined the tendency toward supranationalism and transnationalism in the formation of a field of policymaking now known as "migration and asylum" (e.g., Guiraudon and Joppke, 2001" Geddes, 1999), but also in the practical conduct of activities like policing, border control, and identification practice (Bigo, 2000). The emergence of the European Union (E.U.) as an institutional framework for these processes, and the partial reconstitution of its identity as an "area of freedom, security, and justice" endowed with its own "external frontiers," has attracted a great deal of scrutiny.

But if the changing coordinates of migration and border policy in Europe have been carefully considered, the same cannot be said of other aspects concerning this field. One aspect of the "new migration world" (Guiraudon and Joppke, 2001) that surely deserves closer attention is the new form of protest and activism that it has sparked. How are pro-migrant activists and solidarity movements in Europe confronting the new forms of migration and new forms of control that are reshaping the very meaning of Europe and European citizenship? How are they protesting the more restrictive aspects of national and E.U. migration policies? To what extent do they challenge the ways we typically interpret migration policy? A simple answer to these questions is confounded by the fact that the forms and identities of activism that characterize the migration field in Europe are incredibly diverse. Moreover, they are not static but evolving. Consequently, this article does not undertake to map the field of anti-restrictionist and pro-migrant activism, though such an ambitious exercise is timely. Instead, it assumes a more modest task and focuses on one of the more creative and interesting movements within this much broader field--the noborder network. (1)

Noborder can be characterized as a loose alliance encompassing groups from Germany, Italy, the U.K., and several other European countries. It was created in 1999 as a means of linking various pro-migrant and anti-capitalism protests against restrictive border controls, anti-migrant policies, and deportations. Noborder calls for the free movement of all persons. Its vision of mobility is not the restricted version so often propagated by international agencies in the name of "migration management." Instead, it imagines a democratized mobility that encompasses autonomous movements of flight, circulation, settlement, and unsettlement. Anarchists, feminists, greens, civil liberties groups, refugee and migrant organizations, and tactical media initiatives are among the active political forces that make up the network.

The first part of this article provides a brief outline of noborder's activities, tactics, and the practical and theoretical intervention it has made in migration struggles. I place particular emphasis on understanding how noborder differs from earlier forms of pro-migrant activism. The second part addresses what is surely one of the most interesting and imaginative aspects of noborder--its cultivation of noborder camps as a strategy of political demonstration. Activists have staged these temporary camps as a form of symbolic protest, but they are also a tactical engagement concerning Europe's migration and border regime. My analysis of border camping is intended to serve two ends. Most immediately, it is meant as a contribution to the study of contentious politics in the area of European migration control. Second, I am interested in the noborder camp in relation to the broader history of the protest camp. Similar to the barricade and the protest march, the protest camp in my view deserves to be seen in the light of what Tilly (1977) has called "repertoires" of contentious action. Peace movements, antipoverty campaigns, and now pro-migrant struggles have found in the protest camp a powerful instrument of political demonstration. …

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