The Limits of Control. Transnational Migration Trajectories of Clandestine Tunisian Migrants and Assisted Return Between Governed Voluntariness and Repression
Europe’s borders and border control practices have undergone a profound change in recent years.
Assisted voluntary return is a contradiction in terms, as it ignores the characteristics of the return migration bureaucracy as a structure of violence (Graeber 2012), based on the permanent threat of deportation (De Genova 2010).
—De Genova, Nicholas. 2010. “The Deportation Regime. Sovereignty, Space, and the Freedom of Movement.” In The Deportation Regime. Sovereignty, Space, and the Freedom of Movement, edited by Nicholas De Genova and Nathalie Peutz, 33–65. Durham, London: Duke University Press.
—Graeber, David. 2012. “Dead Zones of the Imagination: On Violence, Bureaucracy, and Interpretive Labor. The 2006 Malinowski Memorial Lecture.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 2 (2): 105–28. doi.org/10.14318/hau2.2.007. Since 1985, the Schengen/ Dublin Agreements have become the main pillar of the European asylum and migration policy. Organisations as Frontex, the ICMPD, EASO, and many others illustrate on the institutional level this Europeanization. Although not part of the EU, Switzerland is engaged in many of these organizations. This emerging European border regime has led to new forms of border control practices, aiming at the effective control or “management” of undocumented migration. These border control practices are no longer restricted to the proper geo-politcal border, but relocated and deterritorialised. Nonetheless, undocumented migration towards Europe persists: Migrants as mobile subjects continue to cross EU’s external borders.
In this context, my PhD project took Switzerland’s programmme of so-called assisted voluntary return migration (AVR) for Tunisian migrants as a case study to examine the contradictions of the modern liberal nation state that emerge in the governance of transnational mobility.