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Uncertain lives: migration, the border and neoliberalism in Australia

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Over the last twenty years or so there has been a greatly increased anxiety in Australia over those people now often identified as asylum seekers. In this article I argue that this change of attitude is connected with the ongoing reconstruction of Australia as a neoliberal state. I link the importance of the border of the nation-state with the development of capitalism and go on to argue that there is a direct relation between the assumptions of neoliberalism and Giorgio Agamben's theorization of the state of exception. With this argument I suggest that the state of exception is fundamentally raced. I discuss the Australian relationship between migrants, race and capitalism, which historically worked in terms of the White Australia policy, and think about how asylum seekers are understood to threaten the racialized, neoliberal order of Australian capitalism.
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Keywords: Agamben; Australia; asylm seekers; border; migration; neoliberalism; race; state of exception

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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