Migration and Security

Authored by: William Walters

The Routledge Handbook of New Security Studies

Print publication date:  January  2010
Online publication date:  January  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415484374
eBook ISBN: 9780203859483
Adobe ISBN: 9781135166205


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In this chapter I engage with a relatively new literature that has challenged the increasing tendency both within scholarship and public life more broadly to regard migration as a self-evident security problem. Identifying this literature as critical studies of migration-security, I examine how it poses a series of important questions: under what circumstances, with what effects and at what political and ethical cost does migration come to be framed and governed as a security issue rather than, say, a question of labour or cosmopolitical responsibility? Following a brief discussion of the relationship which critical studies bears to conventional approaches, the chapter observes that at least two strands can be identified within this critical perspective. I distinguish these as discursive and material-semiotic approaches. The chapter offers an assessment of some of the major accomplishments of critical approaches to migration-security. But it argues that, for all its obvious merits, critical scholarship has overlooked important work, both within migration studies and in other areas of the social sciences, work that could considerably enrich its critical project. I highlight three themes where the notion of the securitization of migration could be enhanced by forging closer connections to ongoing work in adjacent fields. These are: historical studies of the policing of mobility; critical studies of race, migration and postcoloniality; and geographies and sociologies that are charting new territories of power and governance.

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