Academic journal article Alternatives: Global, Local, Political

Broken Lines of Il/legality and the Reproduction of State Sovereignty: The Impact of Visa Policies on Immigrants to Turkey from Bulgaria

Academic journal article Alternatives: Global, Local, Political

Broken Lines of Il/legality and the Reproduction of State Sovereignty: The Impact of Visa Policies on Immigrants to Turkey from Bulgaria

Article excerpt

After the granting of citizenship to 300,000 immigrants from Bulgaria in 1989, Turkey has enacted visa regime changes concerning more recent migrants from Bulgaria, who, according to the most recent modification, are only allowed to stay for 90 days within any six month period. In this article, the authors demonstrate that the broken lines of legality/illegality produced by these changing policies further entrench the sovereignty of the state through the "inclusive exclusion" of immigrants who are subject to the law but not subject in the law. The temporary legalization of Bulgarian immigrants to Turkey in return for voting in the Bulgarian elections reveals that the state extends its transnational political power by drawing and redrawing the broken lines of legality/illegality. We demonstrate not only the ways in which the migrant population from Bulgaria is managed but also the strategies deployed by the migrants themselves in the face of such sovereign acts. KEYWORDS: immigration, Turkey, Bulgaria, visa policy, sovereignty

**********

It has been widely claimed that the acceleration and intensification of globalization, especially in conjunction with the neoliberal economic restructuring of the last few decades, poses challenges to nation-states not only through transnational corporations and international political bodies but also through the transnational ties migrants forge beyond national borders. (1) Nonetheless, as Bauman argues, "there seems to be an intimate kinship, mutual conditioning and reciprocal reinforcement between the globalization of all aspects of the economy and the renewed emphasis on the territorial principle." (2) The elective affinity between globalization and the territorial principle, or what others have more generally described as the continuing relevance of the nation-state, (3) increasingly renders state borders and visa policies the sites of an asymmetric relationship between the sovereign state and immigrants who develop formal and informal strategies to expand spaces for maneuver, the limits of which are nonetheless still demarcated by the sovereign state.

It has also been argued that the reproduction of state sovereignty often utilizes the temporariness of the legal status of immigrants. (4) According to Calavita's primarily economic emphasis, the law systematically reproduces the irregularity of migrants in order to ensure a vulnerable and dispensable workforce. The sorting of people into categories of otherness no longer occurs on the basis of cultural or ethnic markers, but rather on their positioning in the global economy. (5) In a similar vein, King underlines that "illegality seems to be constructed in an illogical (but perhaps cynical) way by host societies which seem to be willing to exploit cheap migrant labor (and even be structurally dependent upon it) yet at the same time to deny the legal and civic existence of migrants." (6) Balibar, too, points to the reproduction of illegality despite the rhetoric of immigration control but places the emphasis on how illegality and discourses about illegality become the raison d'etre of the security apparatus. (7)

Other scholars have stressed the systematic nature of this temporariness by utilizing Giorgio Agamben's notion of the state-of-exception to understand the conditions of refugees: Sovereign states make the ultimate decision to include or exclude primarily by wielding the power of separating the rights of the citizen from the rights of man. (8) For Agamben, the separation of rights of the citizen from the rights of man is consolidated through the "irrevocable unification of the principle of nativity and the principle of sovereignty" in the formation of the nation-state, resulting in the "inclusive exclusion" of bare life from the political life, or, of zoe from bios. As birth immediately becomes nation, the immigrant's subjecthood, irrespective of other affiliations, becomes homo sacer (bare life), which is not the subject in the law but subject to the law, suspended in a permanent state of exception. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.