Destitution Economies: Mapping Relationships of Enforced Precarity and
Session organizers: Kate Coddington (Durham University, UK), Deirdre Conlon
(University of Leeds, UK), Lauren Martin (Durham University, UK).
Recent and emerging work by critical geography and migration studies scholars
examines the incremental, ongoing, everyday, and seemingly banal sites and spaces
where forms of commodification, dispossession, and destitution are (re)produced in
immigration enforcement and in migration control and management. Scholarship on
migration ‘hotspots’ at Europe’s external borders and polymorphic borders (Burridge et
al. 2017; Martin and Prokkola, 2017; SocietyandSpace.org Nov 8, 2016), for example,
describes how states and power are respatialized and reconfigured to produce flexible,
surreptitious, and possibly unintended forms of control. In addition, research that goes
beyond privatization of immigration enforcement and management examines how
bureaucratized, commoditized domopolitics are embedded with the experiences of
detained migrants and asylum seekers on a daily basis (see Mountz, 2010; Darling, 2011;
Conlon and Hiemstra, 2016; Gill, 2016). Critical analyses of the intersections between
(humanitarian) care and control also explore how precarious, insecure, or clandestine
forms of subsistence for destitute asylum seekers as well as other irregular migrants
have become increasingly commonplace (Martin, 2015; Coddington, 2017; Lewis et al.
2015; Williams and Massaro, 2016; Mayblin, 2017).
Fundamental to this work is attention to political economies alongside a feminist
political geographical focus on the everyday workings of states and other agents and
institutions of power. Within this framework, economies are understood to incorporate
and also to exceed more traditional approaches to political economy. Here, economies
are taken to be about production and exchange; yet, simultaneously they are linked to
social, cultural, intersectional, and intimate relationships that manifest in uneven and
complicated ways (see Gilmore, 2007; Wilson, 2012; Pratt and Rosner, 2012; Katz,
2015). This work is also attentive to the slow violence (see Nixon, 2011; Pain, 2014;
Cahill et al. forthcoming) of current policy and practice in immigration enforcement and
control. Work on the reproduction of precariousness through immigration enforcement
therefore highlights the everyday, continual, staggered, and oft-invisible iterations of
structural violence that irregular migrants and other marginalized groups encounter
relentlessly in their day-to-day lives. We identify the production of ‘destitution
economies,’ the sites, spaces and practices where precarity and slow violence are
(re)produced and enacted for irregular migrants, as a key element of life for irregular
This paper session aims to build upon these urgent concerns and emergent research
contributions by bringing together political economic, feminist geographic, and
interdisciplinary work on sites, spaces and practices where (irregular) migration and
destitution economies converge. We invite submissions from those thinking about
destitution economies and/or engaged in related research and activism. Possible
themes may address (but are not limited to) these questions:
– Where do destitution economies take shape? How might they be identified,
mapped, and accounted for?
– How, precisely, do destitution economies work? How do forms of migration
management rely on destitution economies and also help to produce them?
How are they configured? What are their logics and/or limits?
– Who is involved in operating destitution economies? What roles do different
state / non-state agencies and actors play? What is gained (or lost) with their
– What are the short term and longer-term effects and impacts of destitution
economies vis-à-vis migrant everyday life, migration management/control, and
for critical conceptions of the same?
– What methodological challenges and opportunities are presented by ‘destitution
– How are / might critical researchers and migrant support activists/advocates
work (together) to challenge or disrupt the slow, incremental, and frequently
invisible violence that destitution economies effect?
Please send title and abstract of no more than 250 words by Friday October 20th 2017.
Abstracts and inquiries should be sent to: Deirdre Conlon firstname.lastname@example.org
and Kate Coddington email@example.com