ISRF Political Economy Fellow 2020
ISRF Political Economy Fellow 2020
Dr Lauren Martin is an Assistant Professor in the Geography Department at Durham University. Her research has analysed the carceral geographies of migration control and border enforcement, particularly the ways in which families both challenge detention and become detainable. She has recently published a book chapters in Secrecy and Methods (Routledge) andHandbook on Critical Geographies of Migration (Edward Elgar), a forum for Environment and Planning D: Society and Space and articles in Political Geography; Territory, Politics, Governance; Geopolitics; Annales de Geographie and other journals. As an ISRF Political Economy Fellow, Dr Martin’s project “Economies of Exclusion: Money, Labour and Value in Immigration and Asylum Politics” will explore how excludability makes migrants valuable (for others) in new ways. The project expands her fieldwork in the US and US, focussing on the re-expansion of family detention in the US and cashless debit cards in the UK. The two case studies illustrate the diverse ways in which migrants’ everyday reproduction are made to work, precisely when migrants are prohibited from waged work. This builds on a collaborative project (with Deirdre Conlon and Kate Coddington) that traces how migrant destitution has become integral to economies growing up around migration, refugees and border control.
The proposed research theorises how migrants are made valuable to others through new economies of migration control. I draw from broader geographical debates about value, lively commodities, and bioeconomies to think through the economics of securitised migration control. Research on the privatization, outsourcing, and commodification of migration control practices identifies a number of new political economic orders: immigration industrial complexes, migration industries, detention rights industries, and intimate economies of detention. Public-private governance is increasingly common in refugee and migration governance, as state borders and citizenship administration are outsourced in many countries. To date, however, these analyses have focused on political and legal problems arising from the delegation of sovereign power, lack of transparency, and the global attenuation of refuge, understanding the problem to be the passage from public to private. The proposed project instead argues that privatisation, outsourcing and marketization of migration and asylum control is a reorganisation of authority that incorporates economic governance alongside illiberal immigration practices. To understand contemporary migration control regimes, in short, we must examine the novel economic relationships sustain them. Analysing privatised immigration detention in the US and asylum-seeker debit cards in the UK, this research proposes a novel theorisation of the circuits of value that allows carceral practices of migration control expand and endure.
To fully appreciate the novelty of exclusion economies of migration control, I bring ‘follow the thing’ methodologies from economic geography to trace the circuit of value of two control practices: monitored debit cards for asylum-seekers in the UK and privatised detention centres in the US. Elaborating on my previous research on family detention in the US and the privatisation of border enforcement in the EU (see CV), the project will trace the socio-technical practices, objects, and mobilities that connect sovereign, political and marketised circuits of value.