Ruben Andersson, Associate Professor, Department of International Development, University of Oxford

Tactical interfaces: clandestine mobility and border control through a transversal lens

This presentation will consider how the travelling tactics of migrants and refugees interact with the deterrence and security prerogatives of the border control industry, with a specific focus on recent developments in the latter field. Irregular migrant routes have always interacted at close quarters with border security operations - as seen, for instance, when a new fence, radar system or patrolling initiative push travellers towards more dangerous pathways. However, with the hardening, even 'post-humanitarian' stance of border security in both Europe and the United States, we now see, on the one hand, more abstract risk modelling built into deterrence; and on the other, a greater reliance on outsourced operators, ranging from Libyan militias to Nigerien security forces. These developments - while building on practices honed over the past two decades - may be said to ‘economise’ migratory life itself in increasingly brutal ways, for instance by using immiseration, death and indefinite containment as political or financial resources. In the paper, I inquire into migrants and refugees' own analysis of this situation while offering notes on how interfaces of border control are entrenching around the policing of vitality and mobility.

Ruben Andersson is an associate professor at the Department of International Development, University of Oxford, and an associated researcher at Stockholm University's Department of Social Anthropology. He obtained his PhD in anthropology from the London School of Economics in 2013 for the thesis Clandestine migration and the business of bordering Europe. The PhD, and his book Illegality, Inc., investigated irregular migration from West Africa towards southern Europe, in particular Spain, and was based on mobile research across the Spanish section of the Euro-African borderlands, from Spain’s North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla to the frontiers and capital cities of Senegal and Mali. The aim was to explore the interfaces where the diverse 'industry' working on this form of migration meets and interacts with its target – the clandestine migrant. Ruben's recent research has been concerned with risk and danger in international intervention, focusing on the conflict in Mali, West Africa and similar crisis settings: this research will be published as the book No Go World in 2019.

Program för Forum för forskning om transnationell migration och CEIFO-seminarier höstterminen 2018.