‘Vulnerable Refugees’ and ‘Voluntary Deportations’: Performing the Hotspot, Embodying Its Violence

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Monday, June 8, 2020
‘Vulnerable Refugees’ and ‘Voluntary Deportations’: Performing the Hotspot, Embodying Its Violence

Cite as: Aila Spathopoulou, Anna Carastathis & Myrto Tsilimpounidi (2020) ‘Vulnerable Refugees’ and ‘Voluntary Deportations’: Performing the Hotspot, Embodying Its Violence, Geopolitics

In this paper, we intervene in naturalised distinctions based on problematic assumptions about agency and choice that underpin the global regime of migration management: namely, that categories of human mobility can be ontologically and juridically distinguished from one another in terms of the degrees or forms of freedom they embody, and that different rights legitimately adhere to each. Focussing on the ‘hotspots’ instituted on 5 islands in the Aegean Sea to manage ‘mixed migration flows’ during the declared ‘refugee crisis,’ we show that the ideological justification for the process of differentiation involves variable attributions of agency, choice, and freedom, or their lack thereof, all of which silence the actual subjects transformed into objects of ‘migration management.’ We argue that the figure of the refugee is divested of agency through the ascription of vulnerability, while the migrant is invested with economic rationality.

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