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‘Liberal Violence’: Displacing and concealing racial border violence at the edge of EUrope.

Authors: Arshad Isakjee*, University of Liveprool, Thom Davies*, University of Nottingham
Topics: Migration, Ethnicity and Race, Political Geography
Keywords: Refugees, violence, bordes, race, liberalism, migration
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Drawing upon scholar-activist research with activists and refugees in Bosnia, this paper examines how violence against refugees is concealed and displaced within the EU, theorising it as a form of ‘liberal’ violence. The violence that refugees suffer as they enter the EU ranges from the crudity of systematic brutal force against men, women, and children, as well as more subtle forms of inactive violence that seeks to strip refugees of the means of life. The use of violence against migrants and refugees sits uncomfortably with the ‘liberal’, post-racial self-image of Europe. We argue that the various violent technologies used within the EU against illegalised migrants embodies the inherent logics of liberal governance, whilst also reproducing liberalism’s tendency to overlook its racial limitations. We use work by Johan Galtung (1990) and David Goldberg (2003) to contextualise European border brutality within ongoing racial and colonial logics. By interrogating how and why border violence manifests, we draw critical attention to the racialised ideologies upon which it is predicated.

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