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Constructing the Forced Migrant and the Politics of Space and Place-making


Saskia Witteborn; e-mail:


Mobility is one of the defining concepts of globalization processes. For some migrants, however, mobility is restricted by international and national laws as well as sociopolitical discourses, which regulate the migrant body and her ability to create social relations. Based on interviews in asylum seeker accommodations in Germany, this study illustrates how asylum seekers are spatially constructed and arrested through bureaucratic labeling and assignment to heterotopias and as a discursive location of transience and difference. Those processes freeze the forced migrant in place, in social and semiotic spaces, and position it as a politicized discursive location. The positioning is indicative of monitoring the Other as a symbol of threat to the nation in times of risk. Overall, the study illustrates the tensions between transnational mobility and fixity and the intersections between globalization, communication, social, legal, and political practice, and space/place-making.