Kim Rygiel – Camp cartographies: Forging transgressive citizenship in transit

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Event Date: 7 February
Christodoulou Meeting Room 11
Walton Hall campus
Open University,
Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA

Opening the Boundaries of Citizenship

The conference addresses the performative and creative side of social movements, practices of identity negotiation and political participation questioning the meaning of citizenship. Which actors, sites and rights are constituted in contemporary power struggles redefining ‘the political’? Which neo-colonial or neo-imperial nodes emerge from the analysis of issues such as democracy or secularism? Under this light, how is the language of law challenged and remoulded?

Panel 20: New Cartographies of Citizenship

Dr Kim Rygiel (Wilfrid Laurier University) – Camp cartographies: Forging transgressive citizenship in transit

The proliferation of migrant and refugee camps, in which increasing numbers of people now live, challenges the insistence within international relations as a discipline in its privileging of the state, and to a lesser extent the city, as the designated site of politics and citizenship. This paper begins by exploring the question of the relationship of the camp to the citizen. How do camp spaces enable the reproduction of spaces of “normal politics” and the constitution of the citizen in relation to sedentarism, defined through the legalized residence on state territory? Given that increasing numbers of people find themselves living in space of the “camp” (migrant and refugee camps, detention centres, shanty towns etc.), can we think about camp spaces as proto-types of other political spaces and different forms of citizenship? Rather than situate the camp, as Agamben does, as a space of exceptionality outside and separate from the space of the citizen, this paper argues for the need to investigate the camp through a politics of citizenship as a political, economic and social space that is productive of political subjects and forms of citizen-subjectivity. One way in which the camp emerges as a site of the political and productive of transient and potentially transgressive forms of citizenship is as a space that provides encounters with difference, leading to the forging of social relations that can be understood collectively as generating a “politics of connectivity” (Ash 2004). This paper explores this idea by looking at how artists, activists and migrants use the camp as a site of building new radical cartographies in order to politicize migrant rights and political subjectivities. Such cartographies juxtapose representations of various forms of mobility (people, transport, and technological) from Africa to Europe with spaces of containment, as represented in detention and migrant camps, and juxtapose control of mobility with migrant perspectives of using mobility as a means of survival and a resource of connectivity in building transnational communities that potentially transgress territorial and communal borders.

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