“If the doors shut behind you, you are a migrant” #1: Migration and Mobility in the EU in times of the crisis
4 November 2014
The first part of Precarity Office’s event trilogy on migration to and within the EU focused on the two terms used to describe the movement of people in Europe: mobility and migration.
We were interested in what the differences and similarities between two terms are, how they are used in European regulations and policies, and how we perceive our own displacement in Europe.
Käthe and Silvia introduced the militant research they had carried out and presented at the Expanding the Margins: Migration, Mobilities, Borders conference in Berlin. They focused on three main questions, which they addressed in interviews with migrant/mobile people in Austria (among others members of Prekär Café). In the exchange following their presentation, we also used these questions to structure the discussion in small groups.
#1 what experiences do/did you have with Anmeldebescheinigung (registration certificate required in Austria, as well as most EU countries)?
#2 do you see yourself as migrant or mobile?
#3 in your opinion what are the differences between the two terms?
Käthe and Silvia shared statistics about migration within Europe and especially, to Austria from different EU member states, and talked about the rhetorics of “mobility” in EU policy documents, which emphasize the positive aspects of displacement within Europe, as the so-called “freedom of movement”. The EU celebrates the results of various mobility programmes, among others the “one million ERASMUS babies” born thanks to student exchange and also impacting European population politics. In the policy documents, “migration” is predominantly used for the displacement of third country nationals to countries within the EU and is more negatively connotated than “mobility”.
We listened to the interviews Käthe and Silvia made concerning the above questions and then discussed our own experiences in smaller groups. The interviews and the discussions drew a very different picture of mobility and migration within the EU and about how we perceive our own situations.
Some questions that came up:
In times of crisis, are we forced to move depending on the economic situation of our countries (e.g. Greece, Spain, Italy, as well as the Central and Eastern European countries), as well as professional opportunities in our areas of work or study? Can we talk about “systematic mobility” – mobility produced and enforced by the current neoliberal capitalist system – in contrast with personal motivations and desires to be mobile? How is mobility/migration impacted by the difference in wages and in turn, what differences does it produce? What questions does talking about class and gender in the context of mobility and migration raise, and how is it connected with different forms of precarity? What impact do current political discourses on the (mis)use/(ab)use of social services around Europe have on the perception of mobility/migration in European societies? Are there other words we could use for displacement other than “mobility” and “migration”?
Following the presentation, interrupted by short “whispering rounds”, we split into three groups to discuss the above questions in more detail. Have a look at the notes we made below and listen to the audio recording of the event!
This was the first part of the event trilogy “If the doors shut behind you, you are a migrant”, in which may mainly focused on questions of mobility/migration within Europe. In the second part on 2 December with the title “Precarity has no borders!” we focus on the outer borders of the EU and the mobility of people without EU citizenship.
Come and join us!