Parasites and Beasts of Burden: Rethinking the Politics of Migration

Launch Event: Thursday June 9th 4.00-5.30pm, followed by drinks reception

Leeds University Business School, Maurice Keyworth Lecture Theatre

Speaker: Professor Bridget Anderson, Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), University of Oxford

Abstract: The situation at the borders of Europe has seen those seeking to enter depicted either as slaves or as animals while Europeans are increasingly described as ‘natives’. That is, while historically the ‘native’ was often imagined as a sub-species of human being directly in contrast with the European, being native has more recently become associated with a claim to rights to belong in contrast to the non-European ‘space invaders’. This paper will discuss the distinction between the (modern day) slave, the (contemporary) native and the animal, beginning from the observation that the kinds of animals that ‘migrants’ are likened to – cockroaches, rats, parasites etc – are not livestock, that is, they are not productive. In this they are unlike ‘beasts of burden’ and livestock that slaves were compared to in the past. Furthermore, not only do these animals lack the capacity to reason, but they lack the capacity to feel and to elicit feeling. I will consider what this reveals about the contemporary politics of immigration in Europe and the survivalist responses to threats to lifestyles.

Brigete Jones MRN LaunchBio: Bridget Anderson is Professor of Migration and Citizenship and Research Director at COMPAS. She has a DPhil in Sociology and previous training in Philosophy and Modern Languages. She is the author of Us and Them? The Dangerous Politics of Immigration Controls (Oxford University Press, 2013) and Doing the Dirty Work? The Global Politics of Domestic Labour (Zed Books, 2000). She co-edited Who Needs Migrant Workers? Labour Shortages, Immigration and Public Policywith Martin Ruhs (Oxford University Press, 2010 and 2012) The Social, Political and Historical Contours of Deportation with Matthew Gibney and Emanuela Paoletti (Springer, 2013), and Migration and Care Labour: Theory, Policy and Politics with Isabel Shutes (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)

Bridget has explored the tension between labour market flexibilities and citizenship rights, and pioneered an understanding of the functions of immigration in key labour market sectors. Her interest in labour demand has meant an engagement with debates about trafficking and modern day slavery, which in turn led to an interest in state enforcement and deportation, and in the ways immigration controls increasingly impact on citizens as well as on migrants. Bridget has worked closely with migrants’ organisations, trades unions and legal practitioners at local, national and international level.