Samid Suliman: Collaborating, Experimenting, Creating: Rethinking Migration Governance in Oceania for a Changing Climate

Mass migrations due to climate change appear to be ungovernable. This is because contemporary means and modes of migration governance owe too much to a statist and static epistemology that can only perceive movement as either aberrant or abhorrent. Rather than moving towards finding peaceful and humane solutions to the pending climate migration crisis, key migration governance institutions will continue to fail in their mission because they deny the possibility for generating new ways of living transversally and kinetically. Not only must different institutions loosen their attachments to the hulk of methodological nationalism, but the many and diverse ways of seeing, sensing and knowing the world in movement (and from movement) also need to be placed at the heart of migration governance. Considering Oceania region as a space of relation, connection and movement (along with Epeli Hau’ofa and Katerina Teaiwa), this paper argues that migration governance must become experimental, creative and collaborative. Here I advocate an approach that acknowledges that the fluid regional context, and the place of moving bodies within a transforming political ecology, can be apprehended when the analytical space between aesthetics, discourse and political action is collapsed. I am guided here by the criticism of Nikos Papastergiadis, whose syncretic approach to the politics – and aesthetics – of migration and mobility in the global present offers a powerful corrective to state-centric and kinetophobic worldviews. Such an approach will allow for developing new knowledge of the ways in which the region – as a site of politics and a space of connection – is being remade through movement, and how Oceania can be reconstituted as a space of secure mobility in the Anthropocene.

Samid Suliman is Lecturer in Migration and Security in the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science at Griffith University. He is also a member of the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research, and has recently been a Visiting Researcher in the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg. Dr Suliman is an interdisciplinary early-career researcher interested in migration, security, postcolonial political theory, international relations, regional and world politics, global development, climate change, and the politics of knowledge. Dr Suliman was awarded the Australian Political Studies Association’s 2015 Thesis Prize for his doctoral thesis, entitled ‘Migration, Development and Kinetic Politics’ (this is currently being revised for publication as a monograph). His work has recently appeared in Review of International StudiesGlobalizationsEnergy Research and Social Science, and Mobilities. Dr Suliman is currently developing a multi-year research project that will explore challenges to, and opportunities for, effective regional migration governance in Oceania in the context of a changing climate. This will include an analysis of how regionalisms produce different ideas about movement and mobility, and how these might be harnessed by institutions to produce ‘secure climate mobilities’ across the Oceania region.


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