Hard Lines and Porous Borders
A Multi-disciplinary Workshop on Security, Population and Legitimacy
March 23-24, 2018
Bratislava International School for Liberal Arts (BISLA)
As the wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and North African countries continue with no foreseeable end in sight, human migration has become one of the key issues haunting the current geo-political landscape. It is not simply the massive influx of displaced populations that has lent support to traditional opponents of immigration, fueled discontent at a popular level across Europe, and contributed to the emergence of right wing, populist political tendencies across the continent. The combination of an uncontrollable movement of populations and the emergence of new forms of Islamic terrorism makes it easy to confuse the two phenomena. ‘Islamophobia’ is not driven simply by fears that the newcomers will take our jobs, or place health and other social services under strain nor by xenophobic or identity-linked arguments about racial homogeneity. Rather, it surfaces because of media-guided, semiotic connections between beards, veils, mosques and other visible symbols of Islamic cultural otherness - and images of the radicalised perpetrators of these recurrent atrocities. Newspaper reports of ISIS terrorists smuggled in among genuine migrants lend even greater force to this process of conflation. There are, therefore, two crises which converge on one another: on the one hand is the chaotic movement of populations, fleeing from unsustainable living conditions, and seeking new political and economic landscapes in which to rebuild their devastated lives. On the other, the impact of Islamic terrorism which strikes, without warning, exasperating the responses of citizens to higher than usual levels of immigration which, even in the best of times, is apt to raise delicate questions of social co-habitation.
Bringing together participants from the traditionally diverse worlds of policy, advocacy, journalism, academia and law enforcement, this multi-disciplinary workshop brings together both practitioners and scholars and seeks to address the ways in which mainstream media has become integral to the reception of contemporary political discourse/s on security, population and legitimacy. Where classic discursive perceptions of the sans papiers have distinguished between refugee/asylum seeker/immigrant/migrant, the prevailing post-9/11 environment of security, an additional figure – the terrorist – has forcibly emerged. No longer does the representation of ‘the other’ embody fears of simple racial, religious, or ethnic diversity but instead it foreshadows the collapse of political projects of integration, assimilation and political union.
We invite contributions to engage in a creative forum with the aim of exchanging and developing current research trends on these and related issues.
With the participation of: Bratislava International School for Liberal Arts (BISLA), Institute for Political Studies Belgrade, Columbia University, Science Po, University of Catania, and Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University.