Manufacturing Displacement: Externalization and Postcoloniality in European Migration Control

Martin Lemberg-Pedersen

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In 2018, the European Council launched “regional disembarkation
platforms” as an innovative externalization of humanitarian care for
displacement in the Mediterranean. Yet, the ideas of naval interception,
deportation and safe zones repeats Western proposals and practices
from the 1980s and 1990s. Discussions in border and forced migration
studies reveals how the ahistoricity and intimate links with power
systems reproduce colonial matrices of power in displacement politics.
And an overview of European externalization politics between 2006-2018
reveals the ambiguity characterizing humanitarianized border control.
Like asylum politics is today, the issue of slavery was a crucial
structuring issue in 19th century international politics. In order to
unearth a deep history of stretched European displacement politics a
postcolonial analysis is charted as a potential remedy. It suggests the
reoccurrence of manufactured displacements through past and present
markets of capture, rescue and re-displacement. Three colonial cases are
offered to substantiate this claim, namely racialized, suppressionist and
externalized border controls in the 19th century Atlantic Basin. It is
argued that current European externalization exhibit contingent parallels
with these cases both in terms of practices, spatial imagination and
transfers of humanitarian blame and responsibility.
TidsskriftGlobal Affairs
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)247-271
Antal sider25
StatusUdgivet - 5 nov. 2019


  • EU externalization
  • postcoloniality
  • Captive markets
  • transatlantic slave trade
  • abolitionism
  • suppression


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