Undocumented Migrants: An Arendtian Perspective

Krause, Monika. 2008. Undocumented Migrants: An Arendtian Perspective. European Journal of Political Theory, 7(3), pp. 331-348. ISSN 1474-8851 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The number of people without rights of residence or work in the territory of Western Europe's nation states is growing. In official representations of political life this group is commonly 'symbolically eliminated' or taken up by an increasingly hostile discourse on 'illegal immigrants' and 'international terrorism'. This article explores what a rereading of the work of Hannah Arendt can contribute to the analytical task of giving an alternative meaning to the presence of this group. Arendt opens up new ways of thinking and acting in view of the present situation. She shows us the rightless migrant as subject to a very specific form of domination - total domination. With Arendt we can see the migrant also as an emblematic philosophical figure, whose status exposes the contradiction of state-centred citizenship and the discourse of human rights. Lastly, the migrant comes into view as a potential political actor; protests by sans papiers become visible as sites of active citizenship.

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July 2008Published

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17 Nov 2011 10:47

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29 Apr 2020 15:31

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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