Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

Muslim Ceuties, Migrants, and Porteadores: Race, Security, and Tolerance at the Spanish-Moroccan Border

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

Muslim Ceuties, Migrants, and Porteadores: Race, Security, and Tolerance at the Spanish-Moroccan Border

Article excerpt

Empirical research at borderlands often produces complex and contradictory findings. When looking for hybridization, one often finds reified identities, yet when looking for militarization, one often finds a rather porous border. The Spanish border town of Ceuta, located on the southern shore of the Gibraltar Strait in North Africa, is no exception. In this 18 [km.sup.2] enclave city situated at the border of Morocco and the European Union, one witnesses at once racism and tolerance, securitization and desecuritization, and a fortress-like and yet porous border. I say "at once" to suggest that these are not distinct and opposite phenomena. Rather, they are complementary dimensions of the local regime for governing difference at the border.

Using data previously collected for research on the securitization of immigration in Ceuta and based on a discourse analysis of more than 200 opinion pieces published in a local daily paper between 1985-2007 (editorials, columns, op-eds, and letters to the editor), as well as on participant observation and semistructured interviews conducted in 2007, this paper focuses on the differential problematizations of three racialized categories of people circulating among the so-called "Christian majority" in Ceuta: "Muslim Ceuties," "migrants," and "porteadores." Through a critical analysis of the "Christian" majority's framing and governing of these three categories of individuals, my first objective is to question Ceuta's version of multiculturalism, organized around the concept of convivencia, in order to go beyond its usual depiction as either an ideal of tolerance or a mask for a racist order. While providing empirical descriptions of Ceuta's race relations, I will argue that convivencia is premised on both racism and tolerance. The first section, titled Convivencia: Pacifying Muslim Ceuties, will thus engage with both overt racism and tolerance in the management of difference in Ceuta. Even as it prevents blatant racism by promoting tolerance, Ceuta's convivencia is intimately tied to race, as "a way (or a set of ways) of being in the world, of living, of meaning-making" (Goldberg 2009:152). Accordingly, one of the main arguments of this paper is that convivencia should be considered a regime for governing differences premised on tolerance and nonetheless contributing to the reproduction of an unequal and racialized social order.

My second related objective is to address the apparent contradictions arising from the coexistence of the projects of strengthening border control, on the one hand, and facilitating irregular border crossings on the other. Consequently, the second section titled Flexible Securitization: Filtering Border Crossers will discuss the related governing of two types of border crossers: "migrants" and "porteadores," or carriers. This section will discuss the discursive and material dimensions of the securitization process, and explain the role it plays in the preservation and reproduction of this pacified social order that is convivencia. I also question the opposition of securitization and desecuritization present in the literature in critical security studies and suggest that, in this context, these two strategies work together to facilitate a flexible management of difference at the border. I will argue that border controls and securitization of immigration, far from leading to the construction of an actual Fortress Europe, are instead tools mobilized to filter types of circulation, "optimize" populations, and reproduce an unequal social order. While the analysis centres on Ceuta, the paper also makes theoretical contributions to the scholarship that explores the intersections between multiculturalism, securitization, racism, and liberal government.

The Problematizations of Racialized Categories of Individuals

Adapting Foucault (1985; 2004), I take problematizations to be the result of historically situated discursive and nondiscursive practices that provide specific ways of thinking about and acting upon objects. …

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.