Mobility economies: immobility, accumulation and migration in Libya
Dr Marthe Achtnich (Magdalen College, University of Oxford)
Public Seminar Series
Wednesday, 15 May 2019, 5pm to 6.30pm
Seminar Room 1, Oxford Department of International Development, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3TB
Hosted by Refugee Studies Centre
Public Seminar Series, Trinity term 2019
Everyday Resistance to the European Governance of Migration
Series convenor: Dr Cory Rodgers
THE SEMINAR SERIES
The Trinity 2019 public seminar series focuses on “Everyday resistance to the European governance of migration”. As national immigration and asylum regimes become increasingly restrictive in countries around the world, “Fortress Europe” stands out for its efforts to regulate human movement both within and beyond its borders. Following the 2015 “crisis”, spikes in detention and deportation have been common features of European migration management. But there are also examples of resistance by migrants and citizens, who defy, endure, and creatively navigate these systems and practices of exclusion, often in ways that are overlooked in legal and institutional accounts of migration governance. This term, four Oxford-based speakers will describe situations in which such efforts become visible (and audible), through diverse case studies from sites on both sides of the Mediterranean. While focused on dramatically different situations and activities, they share an interest in alternative understandings of migration governance, as well as the practices by which people contend with state strategies, xenophobic narratives, and exclusionary practices.
Sub-Saharan migrants in Libya often experience their unauthorized journeys through situations of forced immobility. In such contexts of fragmented state authority, transnational and local migration governance is shaped by state and criminal actors and linked to the extraction of value from migrants’ lives. Through an ethnography based on three situations of forced immobility - being stopped in the Sahara desert, detained in detention centres, and waiting in a private house - my talk takes migrants’ perspectives as a starting point to analyse this dynamic. Rendering vulnerable mobilities into a source of value through commodification of migrant lives, labour and the means to undertake journeys results in an informal mode of accumulation. I conclude by showing how a focus on forced immobility and accumulation enables nuanced understandings of mobility economies in Libya and elsewhere.
Marthe Achtnich is a Fellow by Examination in Anthropology at Magdalen College, University of Oxford. She is an anthropologist working on mobilities, migration and informal economies with a focus on unauthorized migrants’ journeys from sub-Saharan Africa via Libya to Europe. Her current research project (Mobility Economies) builds on her doctoral work on Mobility in Crisis (DPhil, University of Oxford), an ethnography of migrants’ mobilities through the Sahara desert, detention centres and smuggling houses in Libya, across the Mediterranean sea by boat to Malta, and onwards through Europe. Before returning to Oxford for her current fellowship, Marthe was a Wiener-Anspach Postdoctoral Fellow at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and was awarded a small research grant by the Society for Libyan Studies.
For information, at the speaker's request this seminar will not be recorded and podcast.