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Migration, solidarity and the limits of Europe

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In this paper we examine the increasing criminalisation by states and the EU of citizen networks that have mobilised across Europe for supporting migrants in transit. Through these transnational solidarity practices a sort of infrastructure of migrant support has been built. The paper focuses on 'crimes of solidarity' that have taken place in France and in Italy and argues that the criminalisation of individuals which build solidarity connections across borders paradoxically constitutes a radical challenge to Europe's principles of citizens' solidarity across borders. The infrastructure of migrant support enacts a form of Europeanisation of citizens' practices that states and local authorities try instead to undermine. The paper moves on by focusing on the ambivalences of the expression 'smuggling activities', which is increasingly being used to name individuals who help migrants to cross or to stay without making any economic profit from that. The essay considers the frictions between local, national and European authorities in tolerating or criminalising citizens that act in solidarity with the migrants, bringing humanitarian help and building material channels for safe passages. The final part of the paper reads the moment of crimes of solidarity in terms of a genealogy of European borders. It argues that one consequence of the criminalisation of solidarity is that new hybrid forums concerning migration, citizenship and borders questions are emerging. These arise, for example, when citizens are prosecuted for acts of assistance. Their trials have potential to become public scenes and spaces of counter-politics where it is not only the citizen but Europe that is in the dock. While some have argued that criminalisation and humanitarianism closes down the politics of European borders, we argue that it may allow for unexpected political opportunities.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 2019

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  • Global Discourse is an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented journal of applied contemporary thought operating at the intersection of politics, international relations, sociology and social policy. The Journal's scope is broad, encouraging interrogation of current affairs with regard to core questions of distributive justice, wellbeing, cultural diversity, autonomy, sovereignty, security and recognition. All issues are themed and aimed at addressing pressing issues as they emerge. Rejecting the notion that publication is the final stage in the research process, Global Discourse seeks to foster discussion and debate between often artificially isolated disciplines and paradigms, with responses to articles encouraged and conversations continued across issues.

    The Journal features a mix of full-length articles, each accompanied by one or more replies, policy papers commissioned by organizations and institutions and book review symposia, typically consisting of three reviews and a reply by the author(s). With an international advisory editorial board consisting of experienced, highly-cited academics, Global Discourse publishes themed issues on topics as they emerge. Authors are encouraged to explore the international dimensions and implications of their work.

    All research articles in this journal have undergone rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening and double-blind peer review. All submissions must be in response to a specific call for papers.

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