Geographies of Migrant Return and Removal

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Political Geography Specialty Group, Latin America Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Studio 8, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Organizers: Malene Jacobsen, Austin Crane
Chairs: Malene Jacobsen


Recent scholarship has called attention to how processes of bordering are becoming disconnected from state territorial borders, aiming to “manage” migrants internally (Coleman and Kocher 2011), externally (Bialasiewicz 2012; Casas-Cortes, et al. 2013), and transnationally (Collyer and King 2015; Mountz and Loyd 2014). Scholars have addressed a variety of geopolitical and biopolitical practices of migration management, such as the growth of detention and deportation (Collyer 2012; Mountz, et al. 2013), the economics of detention (Conlon and Hiemstra 2016), frequent transfers of detainees (Gill 2009), family detention (Martin 2011), protracted waiting and legal ambiguity (Conlon 2011; Hyndman and Giles 2011), and the role of international humanitarian organizations (Andrijasevic and Walters 2010; Ashutosh and Mountz 2011). This growing field of literature calls attention to the discursive, spatial, and (geo)political dimensions of how migration management is worked out within and between various sites.

In conversation with this body of work, this session examines the geographies of migrant return and removal. Migrant returns programs are an integral component of migration and border management around the world today, and are part of a long history of expulsion (Ngai 2004; Walters 2010). Western countries are employing various migrant removal policies – from forcible deportation to Assisted Voluntary Return and Readmission Agreements – to return non-citizens to their countries of origin or transit. These programs are variously framed by institutions and politicians as managing migration, as humanitarian, and as justified to maintain security alongside the integrity of larger asylum systems. The return and deportation of migrants have and continue to play an integral role in the geopolitical landscape and biopolitical governance of migration management.

We welcome submissions that address the politics, processes, and mechanics of migrant removal, as well as the decisions and lived realities involved with returning – of migrants and government/humanitarian practitioners. We seek submissions that bring together various disciplinary perspectives, research locations, and theoretical lenses (feminist geopolitics, postcolonial studies, critical race studies, legal geography, critical border studies, relational poverty, political economy, and related fields) to better understand the geographies of return and removal in migration management.

​​Possible themes and questions include:
The political discourses and rationalities of return: what are the logics and decisions involved in migrants returning or not (both from governance and migrant perspectives)?
The material processes and spaces of return: How does (voluntarily or forced) return take place? What are the spaces that make return possible (airports, detention centers, aircrafts, transit countries, offices, homes, etc.)? Which actors, techniques, places, and programs are involved in implementing or resisting returns?
The geopolitics and biopolitics of return: how is political power exercised and negotiated in relation to migrant returns (policies, laws, technologies, institutional networks, geopolitical relations between countries, and sovereignty over territory)?
The historical geographies of return: What are the historical geographies of migrant return and how might these spaces be linked to present return programs?

Andrijasevic, Rutvica, and William Walters. 2010. "The International Organization for Migration and the international government of borders." Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 28(3): 977-999.

Ashutosh, Ishan, and Alison Mountz. 2011. "Migration management for the benefit of whom? Interrogating the work of the International Organization for Migration." Citizenship Studies 15(1): 21-38.

Bialasiewicz, Luiza. 2012. “Off-shoring and Out-sourcing the Borders of EUrope: Libya and EU Border Work in the Mediterranean.” Geopolitics 17 (4): 843–66.

Casas-Cortes, Maribel, Sebastian Cobarrubias, and John Pickles. 2013. “Re-bordering the neighbourhood: Europe’s emerging geographies of non-accession integration.” European Urban and Regional Studies 20: 37-58.

Coleman, Mathew, and Austin Kocher. 2011. “Detention, Deportation, Devolution and Immigrant Incapacitation in the US, Post 9/11.” The Geographical Journal 177 (3): 228–37.

Collyer, Michael. 2012. “Deportation and the Micropolitics of Exclusion: The Rise of Removals from the UK to Sri Lanka.” Geopolitics 12 (2): 276-292.

Collyer, Michael, and Russell King. 2015. “Producing Transnational Space International Migration and the Extra-territorial Reach of State Power.” Progress in Human Geography 39 (2): 185–204.

Conlon, Deirdre. 2011. “Waiting: Feminist Perspectives on the Spacings/timings of Migrant (im)mobility.” Gender, Place & Culture 18 (3): 353–60.

Conlon, Deirdre, Nancy Hiemstra, editors. 2016. Intimate Economies of Immigration Detention: Critical Perspectives. Routledge, NY.

Gill, Nicholas. 2009. “Governmental Mobility: The Power Effects of the Movement of Detained Asylum Seekers Around Britain’s Detention Estate.” Political Geography 28 (3): 186–96.

Hyndman, Jennifer, and Wenona Giles. 2011. “Waiting for What? The Feminization of Asylum in Protracted Situations.” Gender, Place & Culture 18 (3): 361–79.

Martin, Lauren. 2011. “The Geopolitics of Vulnerability: Children’s Legal Subjectivity, Immigrant Family Detention and US Immigration Law and Enforcement Policy.” Gender, Place & Culture 18 (4): 477–98.

Mountz, Alison, Kate Coddington, R. Tina Catania, and Jenna M. Loyd. 2013. “Conceptualizing Detention Mobility, Containment, Bordering, and Exclusion.” Progress in Human Geography 37 (4): 522–41.

Mountz, Alison, and Jenna M. Loyd. 2014. “Transnational Productions of Remoteness: Building Onshore and Offshore Carceral Regimes Across Borders.” Geographica Helvetica 69 (5): 389–98.

Ngai, Mae M. 2004. Impossible subjects: Illegal aliens and the making of modern America. Princeton University Press.

Walters, William. 2010. "Deportation, expulsion, and the international police of aliens." in The Deportation Regime, Eds N de Genova, N Peutz. Duke University Press, Durham, NC:147-165


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Discussant Nancy Hiemstra Stony Brook University 20 8:00 AM
Presenter Sasha Brown*, National University Of Ireland - Maynooth, Investigating State Archives: revealing cultures of state in the archives of the Irish asylum and refugee determination process 20 8:20 AM
Presenter Paul Flynn*, University of Texas - Austin, Rebecca M Torres, University of Texas at Austin, Caroline Faria, University of Texas at Austin, Immigration courtrooms as violent spaces 20 8:40 AM
Presenter Jared Van Ramshorst*, Syracuse University, The Detention Corridor: Spatializing Migration Management and Uncertainty in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands 20 9:00 AM
Presenter Emily Erickson*, UCLA, Fear, Faith, and Political Participation of Undocumented Americans in Los Angeles & Albuquerque 20 9:20 AM

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