Towards a post-autonomy of migration: (Young) refugees between belligerent and peaceful agency
Keywords:Agency, border regime, autonomy of migration, critical migration research, refugees
Contemporary research on migration and border regimes emphasizes that migration produces effects beyond border control, as migrants act (partially) autonomously as individual or collective agents. On the discursive level, many representations tend to foster fantasies of refugees as autonomous political fighters, which overlooks their frequently peaceful aims and ignores non-violent (micro-)politics. Based on an example from Laura Otto’s fieldwork with young migrants in Malta, we claim that it is important for critical migration theory not to subsume diverse forms of agency and concrete actions of migrants too easily under the umbrella of the autonomy of migration, as autonomy is a highly ambivalent concept – not an end in itself. We propose to distinguish clearly between belligerent and peaceful forms of political agency. Beyond an understanding of autonomy as combative by principle, a post-autonomous viewpoint takes constructive interdependencies among migrants and non-migrant EU-populations into consideration, too.
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