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Migration and mobility

Mobility is widely understood as integral to human freedom, so much so that when injury, illness or old age restrict our capacity to move we are commonly referred to as ‘dis-abled’. This is also what makes imprisonment, or even house arrest, such a profound and terrifying punishment. Whether nipping to the shops, commuting for work, or travelling for leisure, mobility is and always has been an essential part of humankind’s economic, social, cultural and political life. To be able to move freely is a good. Yet in an unjust world, it is also an unearned and unequally distributed privilege. Read on...



Tortured for ransom: extortion on migrant routes

The phenomenon of torture for ransom is increasingly occurring on migrant routes as a new form of human trafficking.

Disenfranchised citizens, unfree labour: The social and political exclusion of India’s internal circular migrants

Too often excluded from political representation and social protection, Indian ‘circular migrants’ need a better deal, argues Indrajit Roy.

“Let us live or make us die!” Migrants’ challenge to their outlawry

On International Migrants Day, all liberal democratic states will reaffirm their respect for migrants' rights. This will mean little to those forced into a living death by border controls and immigration policies.

The UN Convention on Migrant Workers’ Rights at 25

The UN Convention on Migrant Workers' Rights has not yet been ratified by a single western migrant-receiving state, despite being one of the UN's core human rights instruments.

Déformer les « leçons de l’histoire » pour autoriser une violence injustifiable : la crise méditerranéenne

Plus de 300 universitaires spécialistes des migrations et de l’esclavage répondent à ceux qui défendent l’utilisation des forces militaires contre les migrants qui essayent de traverser la Méditerranée. Il ne s’agit pas de trafic d’esclaves. Comment peut-on justifier moralement des actions entraînant la perte de vies humaines? English

The case for open borders

The discretionary control that states exercise over immigration is unjust. People should normally be free to cross borders and live wherever they choose.

Thinking about open borders

The free movement of people across international borders is a taboo in international political debates, making a thorough and much-needed rethinking of migration politics impossible. This must change.

Ferries not Frontex! 10 points to really end the deaths of migrants at sea

The EU response to the increasing number of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea is riddled with falsity. Activists in touch with many of those attempting to cross respond.

When spring comes, smugglers are in the news

Migrants in Morocco often attempt to cross the Mediterranean only after years of exploitation and exclusion. Their vulnerability is a product of EU policy and its preoccupation with ‘transit migration’.

North Korean migrants in China: neither trafficked nor smuggled

North Koreans’ migration to China is highly complex, more so than when it is depicted simply as ‘human-trafficking’ and/or ‘modern slavery’ in anti-trafficking discourse.

Freedom fighters: freelancing as direct action

Migrant domestic workers in the Middle East act as if they were already free when they resist the constraining kafala system by setting out on their own as freelancers.

Rights talk, wrong comparison: trafficking and transatlantic slavery

Transatlantic slavery relied on force to move people, while today’s ‘trafficking’ does not. Vulnerable migrants have more in common with those escaping from historical slavery than those entering into it.

Bound and determined: new abolitionism and the campaign against modern slavery

The question of mobility was central to struggles against the transatlantic slave trade and slavery. Current campaigns focus on the journey into slavery, overlooking the spatial captivity entailed in ‘modern slavery’.

At any cost: the injustice of the “4 and 4 rule” in Canada

Immigration rules in Canada are forcing out already-vulnerable temporary foreign workers. The measure’s class dimensions are representative of the injustice of Canada’s revolving-door system of labour exploitation.

Slavery, asylum, and the face of social death in modern day Britain

The dehumanisation of transatlantic slaves has strong echoes in the UK’s current immigration regime, which separates families, denies parents custodial rights over their children, and condemns migrants to social death.

The UK: the far shore for torture survivors

The relatively small number of torture survivors who make it to the UK face disbelief, the threat of detention and removal, and barriers of access to vital services.

Slave state: how UK immigration controls create ‘slaves’

British immigration controls aren’t working and policies stripping rights from large numbers of migrants are creating a ‘slave’ population in the UK.

Families in detention

The United States uses the detention of families and unaccompanied minors as a method of deterring immigration. This must stop.

Silencing the challenging voices of the global ‘subalterns’ in anti-trafficking discourse

Contemporary anti-trafficking discourses are powered by a series of gendered and racialised binaries that silence the voices of the global subalterns, undermining their agency, and defusing their transgressions.

‘Foreign criminals’ and victims of trafficking—fantasies, categories and control

Casting migrants and smugglers as 'victims and villains' allows states to play saviour and legitimates immigration enforcement as the sole appropriate response.

Safe migration as an emerging anti-trafficking agenda?

Safe migration has become a way for anti-trafficking organisations to re-articulate how a concern with labour exploitation relates to migration, yet it remains unclear how ‘safety’ can be ensured.

The border spectacle of migrant ‘victimisation’

There’s nothing self-evident about ‘illegal’ migration. When borders become a spectacle of migrant deaths, discourses of migrants’ ‘victimisation’ by ‘smugglers’ distract us from the real causes of migrant illegalisation.

Fascist legacies: Italy’s approach to mobility and mobile labour

Italy abolished Mussolini-era laws restricting internal mobility in the 1960s, yet troubling continuities exist between these regulations and current efforts to control Italy’s migrant population.

Illegalised migrants and temporary foreign workers: the new international segmentation of labour

Labour markets are segmented, and the vulnerability at the bottom underpins the stability and benefit at the top. States use migration controls to maintain the docility of the bottom rung.

Overcoming space: mobility and history

Mobility is integral to human life, but not all mobility is treated as equivalent. What happens to those who are unable to move away from wilderness and into history?

On freedom and (im)mobility: how states create vulnerability by controlling human movement

Beyond Slavery introduces its next issue on trafficking, smuggling and migration, arguing that mobility is central to life and that state restrictions on movement are the true threat to human wellbeing.

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