On Refugee Week a one day symposium at Goldsmiths
Borders, walls and bans in recent years, have come to dominate our political and social imagery and lexicon. Presented as the ultimate bastion against the alleged invasions of western nations by migrants and refugees, re-bordering and wall-building metaphorically also portray the failed myths of neoliberal capitalism and its rhetoric of unlimited freedom of movement.
In the UK, Brexit has been framed above all as the necessary step to regain territorial sovereignty and protect the British borders from new immigration influxes.
In the US, similarly, the recent bans of the Trump administration against citizens of six Muslim-majority countries and the building of a wall at the border with Mexico represents the latest stage in a long-term strategy aimed at imposing securitarian logics and at turning non-American and non-western citizens into dangerous aliens.
In Israel, the West Bank wall has come to epitomize the system of segregation and discrimination that has kept Palestinians as non-citizens for three generations.
While some scholars define the contemporary fixation with protecting borders as the latest phase of a long history of capitalism’s re-bordering manouvers, others emphasize the novelty of today’s bordering, walling and banning tactics and read them as symptoms of fading old regimes of sovereignty and even as attempts to defend injured masculinities. Still others argue that, while migrants’ contributions to ‘western’ societies are important, some limitations to freedom of movement could be necessary in the face of lowering wages and communities’ feelings that migration threatens their identities.
Do these phenomena speak to us of the end of neoliberalism and globalisation as the alleged defenders of free borders? Are we witnessing the rise of a new social and political order whose contours are still uncertain? How do we respond to the call for borders control coming from some of the most marginalized sectors of societies?
On Refugee Week, this symposium aims at discussing this set of issues and questions with scholars and activists.
Yasmin Gunaratnam - Goldsmiths, London
Nisha Kapoor - University of York
Richard Seymour - Journalist and author, London
Mary Bosworth - University of Oxford
Docs not Cops
Against Borders for Children Campaign
Sue Clayton - Goldsmiths, London
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