Lives in Transit: An Ethnographic Study of Refugees’ Subjectivity across European Borders

1st Edition

Elena Fontanari

Published November 19, 2018
Reference - 292 Pages - 13 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9780815377627 - CAT# K338884
Series: Studies in Migration and Diaspora

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This book explores the border-crossing mobilities of refugees within Europe. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Germany and Italy, it examines the precarious everyday lives of non-citizens living between and beyond EU internal borders. With attention to the constant re-construction of borders within Europe through negotiation practices, the author shows how the tensions that exist between refugees on the move and the structural constraints that limit their movement produce ‘interstices’ – small spaces of possibility that open up as a result of refugees’ struggling within structural constraints. A comprehensive understanding of the long-term effects of EU borders upon refugees’ lives is then afforded through a particular focus on the post-arrival period. Examining the protracted precariousness and multi-directional hyper-mobility in Europe that emerges from the dynamics of the relation between structural mechanisms and the agency of individuals, Lives in Transit reveals how the border regime in Europe impacts mostly upon the temporal rather than the spatial dimensions of refugees’ lives, affecting their subjectivities and sense of self. This ‘dispossession’ of time is advocated as the main problem with the experience of refugees in Europe, causing them to claim a temporal justice, which seeks to gain back control of their own lives and personhood. Calling for migration to be understood as a process of ‘becoming subjects’, this volume will appeal to scholars of sociology, anthropology, and politics with interests in migration and diaspora studies.

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