Conflicts of Mobility: Migration, Labour and Political Subjectivities COMPAS Communications


Migrants’ crossing of borders, their mobilisations, and strikes in Europe, the United States and Australia are at the centre of this special issue. To begin a discussion on labour and citizenship with border crossing or mass protests means to firmly position migrants as protagonists of struggles around freedom of movement and labour rights. To stress the organised format of these struggles entails advancing a political reading of mobility. Mobility enacted by migrants, such as scaling the security fence at the Moroccan-Spanish border, arriving on boats at Australia’s northern shores or getting across the Mexican-US border with the help of a coyote (that is ‘smuggler’) is not seen as political nor are migrants understood as making a political claim. Quite the opposite, they are seen as economically desperate and destitute individuals whose mobility is prompted by economic necessity or humanitarian need. This representation is even more extreme in cases of women migrants who, as the terms ‘sex trafficking’ and ‘sexual slavery’ indicate, are often perceived as victims of forcefully imposed mobility and merciless labour exploitation. The depiction of migrants as a disorderly mass of people and/or as desperate individuals reduces mobility to a socio-economic logic and reproduces the distinction between masses on the one hand and citizens on the other (Aradau and Huysmans, 2009).


BordersCitizenshipEducationGenderLabour MarketsRights


EuropeOceaniaThe Americas