Sibel Karadağ: Encounter of Border Control and Agency of Migrants

Encounter of Border Control and Agency of Migrants: Turkish-EU Borders

Sibel Karadağ

Borders are unique spaces of political and special contestation, in which sovereignty and “acts” of migrants are performed. Rather than examining the border as a simple line indicating the limits of sovereign jurisdiction, new theoretical approaches in critical border studies attempt to emphasize the processes of border-making, the performative view of borders. The question of how state policies are “performed” by state agents/bureaucrats, non-state actors as well as border crossers plays a critical role in determining where, how and on whose body a border will be performed. Two theoretical perspectives in migration studies will be discussed in this project regarding the new political relations across the terrain of European border control and migrant agency: Agamben’s theorization of the homo sacer and the “Autonomy of Migration”. While Agamben’s theorization views the border control as permanent state of exception, the literature on autonomous migration in general suggests that migrants are not simply objects and victims of the sovereign control, but rather that the acts of migration defy the sovereign power of the state. This project criticizes both theoretical perspectives with respect to their reductive approaches in reading of power by asserting the sovereign control or the human mobility as the primary source. The project suggests that the co-constitutive relationship of sovereignty and agency of migration would enable us to comprehend complex power relations at the border and its transformative potentialities. In order to investigate the performativity of the European border through the lenses of a co-constitutive relationship, the project compares the Turkish-Greek and Turkish-Bulgarian borders by analyzing how policies of European border control and its implementation in two different countries are performed together with the resistance and new struggles of border crossers.

Sibel Karadağ is a third-year PhD candidate in Political Science and International Relations at Koç University. Karadag received her BA in Social and Political Science from Sabancı University in 2010; an MA in European Studies from Sabancı University in 2012; and a Msc. in Social Policy from London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in 2012. In her two master theses, she studied the securitization of migration in the EU and Turkey and received Jean Monnet Scholarship in 2011-2012. Her doctoral project investigates the performativity and transformative potential of borders (particularly Turkish-EU borders) through the analysis of political and social contestations in consequence of encounter between border control mechanisms and migrant agency. She has presented her studies at a number of national and international academic conferences. Her research areas are migration and border studies, citizenship studies, globalization and transnational processes, critical security studies, European integration and social and political theory.


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