Worlds between words. The politics of intra-European movement discourses

Registration deadline

Call for papers for the below panel at the Interpretive Policy Analysis (IPA) Conference (5-7 July, 2017, Leicester (UK))

Worlds between words. The politics of intra-European movement discourses
Panel by: Mark van Ostaijen

The freedom of movement in Europe is heavily contested. In France, the ‘Polish plumber’ played a significant role in the rejection of the EU constitution in 2005, the Dutch vice-prime minister called upon a ‘Code Orange’ for a better awareness on the ‘shadow sides’ of free movement in 2013 while obviously, it was one of the main arguments for British voters to favour a 'Brexit'. But how does migration mean (Yanow, 1996)?

From a discursive perspective, concepts like ‘migration’ and ‘mobility’ are not self-evident, descriptive or apolitical phenomena but are politicized in various ways on different governmental levels. While European member-states mainly refer to ‘migrants’ and their ‘integration’, European institutions mainly refer to the importance of ‘European mobility’ for ‘mobile workers’ and the ‘Single market’. As such, migration and mobility are by no means neutral, descriptive or obvious phenomena. Instead, ‘migration’ and ‘mobility’ can be seen as non-self-evident, politicized and contested concepts, which is also more and more acknowledged in the literature. Such insights demands more political sensitivity in the scholarly usage of ‘migration’ and ‘mobility’ grammar.

But acknowledging this ‘politics of migration’ should not only account for transformations of the ones who move, but also account for transformations of the ones who re-articulate that movement. By acknowledging ‘migration’ as political mediated concept, it is not the migration phenomenon itself that holds importance, but the way in which (research) actors make sense and discursively construct a phenomenon as migration and ‘make up people’ by concepts such as migrants, migration and mobility (Hacking 2002; Latour, 2000). By such acknowledgment, scholars should no longer only point at politics as external to research (by particular states, nations or transnational organisations) but also at politics as within research (Jasanoff, 2000; Salter, 1988). For instance, some showed the limited-reflexivity of migration researchers on state-related influences causing state-specific discourses within migration research (Lavenex, 2006; de Haas, 2014; Wimmer & Glick-Schiller, 2003; Bommes & Maas, 2006).

The aim of the proposed panel is to gather papers which interpretively investigate, critically problematize or empirically substantiate migration and mobility. By this aim, this panel welcomes theoretical and empirical approaches which articulate discursive constructions of migration and mobility and offer new conceptual approaches. Such perspectives may contribute to a better understanding of migration, mobility and ‘free movement’ as politically mediated concepts.

Mark van Ostaijen
De Montfort University Leicester (UK)
Contact person
Mark van Ostaijen; Nisha Solanki