Carceral Economies of Contemporary Migration Control

Authors: Lauren Martin*, Durham University
Topics: Migration, Political Geography
Keywords: immigration enforcement, borders, value, migration, privatisation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 4:30 PM / 6:10 PM
Room: Virginia A, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper focuses on the emerging economies of migration control and draws from broader geographical debates about value, lively commodities, and bioeconomies to think through the economics of securitised migration control. Research on the privatization, outsourcing, and commodification of migration control practices is widespread, marking a number of new political economic orders: immigration industrial complexes, migration industries, detention rights industries, and intimate economies of detention. Public-private governance is increasingly common in refugee and migration governance, as state borders and citizenship administration are outsourced in many countries. Analysis and critique has focused on political and legal problems arising from the delegation of sovereign power, lack of transparency, and the global attenuation of refuge. This paper argues that to understand how securitization becomes entrenched, we also have to examine the novel economic relationships sustain them. Analysing privatised immigration detention in the US and asylum-seeker dispersal in the UK, this paper traces some of the circuits of value that allows carceral practices of migration control expand and endure. I argue that immigration and refugee laws produce mobile people as new kinds of economic subjects, who come to bear value for others in their detainability, exclusion from the (formal) work, and confinement.

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