The experience of border crossing for refugees and irregular migrants challenges global border and migration controls in multiple contexts. Using qualitative field research in Tanzania, Spain, Morocco and Australia, Heather L. Johnson asks how a global regime of migration management and control can be perceived through the dynamics of particular border spaces: refugee camps, border zones and detention centres. She explores how irregular migrants are impacted by the increasingly security-oriented practices of border control, and how they confront these practices. Johnson rejects the characterization of border spaces as exceptional, abject and exclusionary, arguing instead for an understanding of politics as everyday contestation that reveals a radical political agency, re-imagining the global non-citizen as a transgressive and powerful figure. Building on recent scholarship that rethinks irregularity and non-citizenship, her conclusions have broad implications for how we understand irregular migration from a position of dialogue and solidarity.
Heather L. Johnson is a Lecturer in Politics and International Studies at Queen's University Belfast, where she teaches international relations, security studies and conflict studies. She is an external researcher at the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University, Toronto, and has been a member of the executive board of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies since 2009. She was a fellow with the Canadian Consortium for Human Security in 2008. Her research is interdisciplinary, and relies on qualitative and ethnographic field work in various global sites, including Tanzania, Spain, Morocco and Australia.
1. Introduction: situating migrant narratives in irregularity; 2. Narratives and moments; 3. From forced and voluntary to irregular and regular; 4. Framing the migration regime in border control; 5. Rethinking irregularity; 6. Camps and detention centres: spaces containing irregularity; 7. The other side of the fence; 8. Irregularizing agency; Conclusion: stories about migration; Appendix: list of interviews; References.