RGS IBG 2019: The politics of hope within systems of border control: Troubled subjects, materials and temporalities
The politics of hope within systems of border control: Troubled subjects, materials and temporalities
Organisers: Sarah Hughes (Durham University) & Daniel Fisher (Exeter University)
“Is there a better optimism? And a right way to lose hope? It depends who’s hoping, for what, for whom – and against whom. We must learn to hope with teeth.”
China Miéville 2018, The limits of Utopia
The contemporary landscape of border control is not widely considered to be hopeful. Profit margins and a political rhetoric of ‘secure borders’ are valued more than life lived in fullness. The UK’s hostile environment policies, the measures put in place by ‘Fortress Europe’, ‘Brexit’ and anxieties of settled status, escalating family detention and Trump’s border wall are but a few examples of increasing hostility to migrants. Simply put, things are getting worse.
And yet hope remains. The politics of migration control can also be characterised as a struggle for/over hope. We encounter hopeful actions in those moving to find family, escape war, find work and in aims for a better life. We find them in the activists and charities working to kindle hope within these systems. Yet we also see hope in the policy strategies to deter ‘hopeful’ migrants, to reduce incentives and to ‘increase border security’. What then, does it mean to talk of ‘hope’ in the context of such increasingly pervasive, hostile and deadly systems of border control? What forms of politics does a focus upon hope open up, and what does it risk precluding? And what might it mean to “hope with teeth” (Mieville 2018)?
The aim for border scholars and activists, however, cannot be to simply engender a sense of hopefulness in the face of such strategies. In this session we therefore seek to further unpack the politics of hope in the context of borders and immigration control by recognising that hope is not necessarily positive, nor is it inherently progressive. We trouble the potentially dangerous simplicity of the ‘hopeful migrant subject’, focusing instead on the multiple forms of hopeful, incoherent subjectivities that are emerging within systems of border control. We also seek to investigate the power of objects and things in shaping the forms and intensities of hope or despair. Furthermore, what temporalities of hope emerge in the context of border control?
We welcome papers and submissions in non-traditional formats (for example video or visual submissions) that explore themes including but not limited to:
Miéville, China. “The Limits of Utopia” Climate and Capitalism, March 2nd 2018. https://climateandcapitalism.com/2018/03/02/china-mieville-the-limits-of-utopia/
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