Neo-Liberal Regionalism and
the Management of
People’s Mobility 1
The control of migration flows is generally interpreted either as a function of labour market needs, whereby states respond to pressures from particular economic sectors (e.g., Burawoy, 1976), or as part of a statist logic of defending sovereignty (e.g., Collinson, 1993). The present chapter will differ from these interpretations. It will be suggested that migration controls constitute a series of mechanisms through which particular state forms and processes of economic restructuring are imposed on countries that originate migrants. Important changes contribute to this reflection on migration controls. As such they are integral components of neo-liberal regional integration projects.
First, globalisation involves a process of regionalisation of economic and political activities that also concerns migration policies. Second, migration policies at the regional level are articulated with a particular economic and political project known as neo-liberalism. Third, the migration issue is linked to other forms of mobility 2 (internal, sectoral and social) that are being restructured in regional contexts. The study of mobility, its corollary fixity, and their control, thus provides relevant material for an argument about the neo-liberal nature of the management of migration at the regional level. This will allow the development of an argument about the tight connection between emerging migration control frameworks and measures for labour market restructuring, economic re-localisation and the logic of capital expansion that characterise neo-liberal regional integration processes. Two case-studies will be presented: the relationship between the