Workshop Intimacy, Racialisation and Affect in Contemporary Migration Politics (IntRA)
Paris, 11–12 May 2023
A collaborative anglophone/francophone workshop, organised by Institut Convergences Migrations, le Centre de recherches sociologiques et politiques de Paris (CRESPPA) & University of Amsterdam (UvA)
The topic of intimacy has long been central to feminist and queer scholarship on the nation, empire, mobility and migration. While largely eluding definition, feminist- and queer scholars understand intimacy beyond the personal, the body and the household. These scholars have theorised intimacy as an important site of population control, intersecting with other categories of subjectification such as gender, sexuality, religion, race, age, class and dis/ability (cf. Amphoux et Mondada, 1989; Berrebi-Hoffmann, 2009; McClintock, 1995; Oswin N. and Olun, 2010; Stoler, 1995; 2002; Yuval-Davis, 1997). Exploring the concept beyond the private-public divide has allowed feminist- and queer scholars to conceptualize the politics of intimacy as foundational to both colonial – and contemporary politics of citizenship. As such, intimacy has been theorised as imperative to contemporary politics of belonging, and an important site of critiquing the boundaries of liberal subjectivities (Evans, 1993; Lister, 1997; Luibheid, 2008; Plummer, 2003; Sabsay, 2016; Saleh, 2020).
Intimacy has in parallel become central to migration scholarship, particularly for scholars interrogating the politics of family- and queer migrations (see ex: Giametta, 2017; Mai King, 2009; White, 2014). Within this literature, scholars have theorised intimacy in relation to how migrants and support networks negotiate agency relative to state migration institutions, and explored intimate relations as an important site of state interventions (see ex: Odasso & Salcedo, 2022; Schmoll, 2021 ; Bonjour et de Hart, 2021). Building on this scholarship, the workshop aims for a transnational reflection on how intimacy is articulated in contemporary migration politics in relation to processes of racialisation and affective economies across- and beyond Europe. More particularly, the two days international/collaborative workshop invites scholars to explore how the “intimacy-racialisation-affect” nexus, in relation to other vectors of oppression/privilege, such as sexuality, gender, age, class, nationality, shape power dynamics that structure encounters between individual subjects (migrants, non-migrants, support networks, families) and state actors in citizenship- and migration processes.
Working beyond methodological nationalism within migration studies, the workshop explores how the multiplicity of actors- from intermediaries (lawyers, migrants’ right networks, NGOs), brokers, families, and individuals- negotiate access to migration – and citizenship rights afforded by state bureaucracies. Following the emotional- and affective turn in migration studies (Bilgic, 2018; Raj, 2017), the workshop explores how scholars across research fields-and geographic locations, draw on intimacy as an analytical prism for interrogating the contemporary politics of migration (asylum migration, family migration, regularisation, detention, legal intermediation/intermediaries, bordering practices) and citizenship in relation to categories such as race, dis/ability, gender, sexuality, age, class and religion.
In recent years, the political relevance of intimacy has been emphasised within both academic research and by civil society actors. Scholarship on the politics of family migration has highlighted how family reunification and marriage migration to Europe is politically constructed as "the final loophole" in migration to and through Europe. Scholars within these traditions have shown how state regulations of “proper intimacies” reproduce certain politics of belonging along racialised, sexualised and gendered lines (cf. Bonjour et de Hart, 2013 ; Eggebo, 2013 ; Maskens, 2015 ; Wray, 2011). This research has explored how the "policing" (Donzelot, 1977) of intimacy in migration politics reproduces colonial ideologies, particularly through the discursive imaginary of the unassimilable Other as bearer of intimate practices irreconcilable with those of the "modern" European family (Bonjour and Block, 2013; Bonizzoni, 2018). Building on the work of Gilles Deleuze (1988), Sarah Ahmed (2000, 2004) as well as Michel Foucault’s work on governmentality, queer – and feminist- studies of migration- and citizenship have increasingly theorised the role of intimacy in relation to affect and emotions in contemporary citizenship – and migration politics. Among others, this scholarship has explored love as a technology of governmentality (D’Aoust, 2013), the entanglements between affect, emotions, race, gender and sexuality within bureaucratic evaluations of trustworthiness in migration processes (Bilgic, 2018; D’Aoust, 2018; Raj, 2017; Tolia-Kelly, 2006), and the brokering of affect- and emotions between binational couples, migrants rights organisations and state migration bureaucracies (D’Aoust, 2018; Odasso & Salcedo, 2022). This scholarship has begun illuminating the links between affect, emotions, racism and the politics of belonging, particularly in relation to (homo/hetero-)normative constructions of love, family and intimacy.
In this workshop, we aim to further the work on affect and racialisation within contemporary politics of citizenship and migration. The aim is to understand how migratory processes reveal multiple geographies of racialisation, informed by (dis)continuities between coloniality and contemporary imaginaries of otherness. These norms and imaginaries are constructed, internalized, and rooted in history; they work through the encounters of people in migration with the state (or states), its actors, and other intermediaries (Tyszler, 2020; Sahraoui Tyszler, 2021). Emotions and affects participate in structuring these encounters and more broadly in the governance of migration (Andreassen & Vitus, 2016). Across socio-cultural contexts, emotions- and affect shape the facets of racialisation, as well as its role in defining (trans)national politics of belonging (Yuval-Davis, 2006) and group/individual feeling of belonging or disaffiliation. In order to explore how scholarship on migration- and citizenship politics can be enriched through the “intimacy-racialisation-affect” nexus, we propose to work around three interconnected themes throughout the IntRa workshop, along the following (but not limited to) sub questions:
- Nation, kinship and family
- What implications do the institutionalisation of affective governance within citizenship – and migration politics carry for individuals, couples, families and communities seeking to access migration – and citizenship rights? What do intersectional and de/postcolonial approaches to heteronormativity and homonormativity reveal about the politics of accessing (family) migration rights?
- How do imaginaries and norms (about family, intimacy, race, sexuality, gender, age, religion for ex.) shape migratory trajectories and affective relations within- and beyond institutional recognition by the state(s)? How do these norms- and imaginaries shape the political strategies and tactics utilized by migrants’ rights organisations, collectives, couples, individuals and families in accessing migration rights?
- Asylum and Affective Relations
- How do interactions between racialisation, emotions and affect shape the contemporary governance of asylum?
- How do politics of racialisation, intimacy and affect shape hierarchies of respectability-and vulnerability within the contemporary governance of asylum?
- What racial, affective and emotional norms or imaginaries are mobilised in the production of humanitarian logic within asylum regimes?
- How is intimacy defined and negotiated by states, intermediaries and individuals/families/couples within the contemporary politics of asylum?
- What subjectivities are produced through the institutional injunction to narrate trauma and intimacy (within asylum migration processes)?
- How have colonial legacies and continuities shaped – and continue to shape- the legal right to afford migration – and citizenship rights based on examinations of intimacies of postcolonial subjects?
- Intermediaires, brokerage and activism
- How do the actions of intermediaries (e.g., associations, lawyers, translators, smugglers) (re)produce tensions, frictions, and fractures in racial, sexual, and class orders? How do they contribute to modifying or renegotiating existing emotional- and affective geographies?
- What is the role of intimacy, racialisation, emotions- and affect within relationships of proximity, or absence thereof, established between intermediaries and beneficiaries?
- How do norms and practices of legal, social and moral support take shape within- and around support organisations and networks? What are the political boundaries of this engagement- what is the role of existing laws and legality in shaping forms of engagement?
- how do varying processes of racialisation (particularly in relation to intimacy- and affect) negotiate the desire to organisation around a cause (e.g. feminism and migration, asylum and environment)?