CfP 2023 ECPR General Conference- Panel “Irregular Migration and the politics of (in)visibility”

Call for papers, ECPR General Conference, 4-8 September 2023, Prague
Panel: Irregular Migration and the politics of (in)visibility
Panel Chairs: Albert Kraler (UWK) and Jill Ahrens (UWK)

Irregular migration is an important feature of global mobility patterns and economies in many world regions. While irregular migration is linked to broader global patterns of social and economic inequalities driving migration, it is ultimately the monopolisation of the “legitimate means of movement” (Torpey, 2000) by states and unequal access to these that produce irregular movements and associated (non-) statuses and hierarchies of rights (Kofman 2002, Morris, 2002).

While categorisations into ‘lawfully’ and ‘unlawfully’ resident, ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’. ‘documented’ and ’undocumented’ migrants are part of modern states’ practices of making populations ‘legible’ and thus subject to acts of governance (Scott, 1998), such categorisations are also deeply ambivalent, as those classified as ‘irregular’, ‘undocumented’ or ‘clandestine’ are not necessarily easily identifiable, countable and indeed governable. Irregular migrants are in a sense ‘less legible’, as irregular migrants’ identity remains in the shadows and key features of the irregular migrant population remain unknown. Irregular migrants thus are elusive subjects of governance (Boswell/ Badenhoop, 2020). At the same time, irregular migrants are at times also hypervisible – migrants rescued at sea are a case in point, while those subject to illegal push-backs operations are again a consciously hidden category. A third dimension of (in)visibility concerns the (in)visibilisation of particular aspects of an individual’s situation (such as vulnerability or family links to legal residents) employed, for example, in contestations of deportations. A further dimension is the relationship between (in)visibility and access to fundamental rights: often it is only wilful ignorance and a ‘don’t ask/don’t tell’ approach that enables irregular migrants to access basic rights – so-called firewall policies represent the most formalised version of such an approach. The proposed panel seeks to unpack these different dimensions and the politics of (in)visibilisation and (in)visibility in the context of irregular migration. We invite conceptual, theoretical and empirical papers. We are particularly interested in papers that link theoretical and empirical aspects and/or have comparative dimensions.

Please submit your paper proposals (including a title, a 250-word paper abstract, and the name, institutional affiliation of the authors) to Albert Kraler ( and by Sunday February 26, 2023, .

Note: this panel is organised in the framework of the MIrreM project.

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