Roots and routes of “Migration on the Western Balkans”. (Im)-Mobilities and Reception.

September 3, 2020 10:15 - 11:45

Location: Auditorium 28H


In March 2016, after the closure of the so-called “Balkan route” the Western Balkan countries became buffer zones for thousands of unregistered migrants (De Genova, 2017; Green 2013; 2019). They got stuck “in transit”, initially in Serbia and more recently in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The process of securitization of border areas that occurred also in inner countries as Bulgaria, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia, has greatly affected the migrants, facing a condition of progressive marginality and clandestinity (cfr. Donnan et al. 2017). Although the “refugee crisis” in Western Balkans occurred just about the Italian shores of the Adriatic sea, very little is known about the precarious condition and vulnerabilities of migrants living “in waiting” (in provisional shelters at the border crossings or in urban makeshift camps) and on the interactions with state apparatus, local public services and citizens with respect to reception practices (cfr. El-Shaarawi, Razsa 2019; Jefferson et al. 2019). Nonetheless, the tightening of policies on immigration and asylum called into question the response of the Balkan populations who historically experienced processes of internal, often forced, movement of people. The complexity of current migratory trajectories is not only tied to their changing nature shaped by intersecting forms of mobilities, but also by the understanding of their entanglement with recent legacies of 1990s migration and the culture of “being mobile” engrained in the history, daily life experience of the populations (Cohen, Sirkeci, 2011; Sirkeci, Cohen 2016).
Recalling the debate on the fertile interaction between migration and mobility studies (Heil et al. 2017), the ethnographical take on the “new mobility paradigm” (Shelly, Urry 2006) offers an enriching contribution to address the relationship between mobility, history and agency (Stierl, 2019). It captures the everyday configurations of multiple spatial, temporal and social interconnections emerging from the analysis of the street-level practices of public/institutional apparatus and the stories of would-be asylum-seekers, their experiences of mobility and ‘involuntary immobility’ (Carling 2002; Kallius et al. 2016) shaped by power relations (Glick Schiller, Salazar 2013) as well as by the “temporalities of mobility (Ballinger, 2016;
Donnan et al. 2017; Tazzioli, 2018). A diachronic perspective on the recent migrations in Western Balkans sets a more adequate interpretative standpoint to go beyond the understanding of the “refugee crisis” as a point moment in space/time to explore its constructive, changing dimension through past, present and future. The aims of the panel is twofold: to provide a forum for the dissemination of scientific knowledge among policy-makers and broader public opening up discussions and debates; to enable the exchange of expertise and the building of collaborative research networks between individuals, organizations and institutions of the two shores of the Adriatic Sea.

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