Recuperation through Crisis-Talk: Apprehending the European Border Regime as a Parasitic Apparatus of Capture

Scheel, Stephan. 2018. Recuperation through Crisis-Talk: Apprehending the European Border Regime as a Parasitic Apparatus of Capture. South Atlantic Quarterly, 117(2), pp. 267-289. ISSN 0038-2876 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The diagnosis of a migration crisis has prompted multiple processes of rebordering in Europe and beyond. These include the build-up of physical barriers like walls and fences, the tightening of asylum regimes, the expansion of biometric databases and the enrolment of authoritarian regimes in controlling Europe’s borders. These developments have prompted a revival of the image of the ‘fortress’ in critical accounts of the European border regime. Building on existing criticisms of the metaphor Fortress Europe, this article proposes an alternative political imaginary of the European border regime. Starting from a version of the autonomy of migration approach that is based on the notion of appropriation, it proposes to apprehend the European border regime as a parasitic and precarious apparatus of capture. This apparatus of capture tries to recuperate migrants’ practices of appropriation in order to turn the knowledge and creativity of these practices into a driving force for its own development. Important aspects of this dynamic are illustrated through two examples: the refinement of control mechanisms of the European visa regime and the repeated tightening of Germany’s asylum regime since the ‘summer of migration’ in 2015. Taken together, these examples illustrate three aspects of processes of recuperation: first, that legal changes often only
formalise previously informal practices of recuperation, secondly, that the framing of migration in terms of crisis functions as a vehicle for processes of recuperation which open up, thirdly, new opportunities for practices of appropriation as they are incoherent. In sum, the reading of the European border regime as an apparatus of capture paves the way for more assertive antiracist politics as it invites us to apprehend increasingly violent forms of border control not as signs of strengths of the European border regime, but as indicators of its increasingly desperate fight for survival.

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appropriation, asylum, autonomy of migration, crisis, political imagination

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26 October 2017Accepted
1 April 2018Published

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Date Deposited:

03 Jan 2018 12:05

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:42

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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