Beyond Agamben's Noncitizen: Protesting Refugees on Their March through Europe

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 10:45 AM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Martin JOORMANN , Dept. of Social Sciences, HU Berlin, Germany
Migrant protest on the move has emerged recently in different national and local geographies. Following the Refugee Protest March 2012 to Berlin, similar forms of political protest have been realized in different European spaces. Organized mainly by refugees themselves and supported by non-refugee solidarity activists, the recent phenomenon of ‘mobile refugee activism’ has created public discussion and thus influenced mainstream debate on the precarious situation for refugees in Europe. Analytically, while the politics, laws and regulations concerning the life of the refugee within the EU are layered according to three main spaces of institutionalized power: regional, national, international; also grassroots activism as organized resistance is developing accordingly. Based on my ethnographic study of Asylstafetten, the Asylum Relay Walk in Sweden during the summer of 2013, plus research on the Refugee Protest March through Germany and the marches organized by Refugee Struggle for Freedom in Bavaria, also the responsive practices of policing are elaborated in this paper. While repression via police harassment was a central experience of the protest marches through Bavaria, the Asylum Relay Walk through Sweden barely met ‘the state’. Further including the Congress of Protesting Refugees in Europe, held in Munich in early March 2013, the historical and geographical context becomes palpable: ‘European’ refugee protest must be analyzed not only as local and national, but also as increasingly transnational. The self-proclaimed ‘Non-Citizens’ of Europe, in reference to Agamben expressing their overall aim to “overcome the duality of Citizen and Non-Citizen”, have met the responses of power in different ways in different places. The ‘Human Right’ to non-violently articulate democratic dissent has in these cases been infringed by different strategies of state repression. Meanwhile, grassroots refugee activism has to a certain extent already managed to adjust domestically and organize internationally according to these structures of inequality, discrimination and exclusion.