Migrant states of exception proliferate and intensify across the world. While processes of globalization have fostered movement and enhanced connectivity on a hitherto unprecedented scale, they have also brought the highly uneven distribution of elected and enforced mobility to the fore. Such physical and virtual forms of mobility are at the center of processes of de- and re-territorialization and engender complex re-workings of cultural, social, economic, and political spaces that do not align with the traditional borders of nation-states. Even though the Westphalian world order has by no means been replaced, the sovereignty of nation-states has become increasingly traversed by processes and forces that cannot be (fully) controlled by state governments – for example the new “territorialit[ies]” that are produced by “global capitalism” and non-governmental organizations (Ong). At the same time, sovereignty, too, has become more diffuse and dispersed – often exerting influence far beyond the confines of its supposed territorial limits – causing states to engage in more and more intricate and diversified “sovereignty games” (Parker & Adler Nissen).

Even though national boundaries have traditionally been sites where the territoriality of law has been foregrounded, the multidimensionality and diversification of national borders (cf. Parker and Adler-Nissen), their “diffusion and stratification” through “processes of border externalisation and internalization” (Brambilla; cf. also Fassin) show that, along with sovereignty, “border practices” have long moved beyond the actual “line.” Therefore, Agambian forms of “inclusive exclusion,” “bare life,” and “states of exception,” have also been dispersed. At the same time, migrants have developed multiple “tactics” (de Certeau) to navigate and shape spaces of sovereignty in manifold ways.

The symposium seeks to explore articulations of migrant states of exception in the triad of borders, migration, and sovereignty. We are particularly interested in the multiple, complex and varied ways in which migrants negotiate borders, boundaries, and sovereignty. These negotiations are gendered and racialized, material and embodied as well as imagined. Our symposium aims to open up a space for interdisciplinary dialogues that involve disciplines such as literary, cultural, and media studies, anthropology and human geography, as well as legal, sociological, political, historical, and philosophical perspectives on migrant states of exception.

Topics may include but are not limited to . . .

•           the political, legal, and economic dimensions of processes of deterritorialization and reterritorialization, the states of exception created through them, and their implications and consequences
•           the diffusion, diversification, and stratification of borders and their effects
•           “sovereignty games” and border practices, including systems of deportation and detention
•           the “geopolitics of mobility” and “geographies of exception”
•           migrant tactics to negotiate borders, sovereignty, and states of exception
•           philosophical approaches to states of exception and sovereignty
•           attempts to reconceptualize the territoriality of law
•           border imaginaries as offered in different literary genres and media that address migrant states of exception and/or offer new ways of imagining community and belonging
•           the sonic and/or visual dimensions of borderscapes, migration, and states of exception
•           metaphors of (im)mobility and migration such as borders, fences, butterflies, …
•           visual and/or literary representations of migration/the negotiating of borders
•           specific/local articulations of migrant spaces of exception
•           (local) initiatives to give expression to migrant states of exception and to create sites of communication, negotiation, and exchange


Please send abstracts of 300 to 400 words for ca. 20-minute papers in English and a short, bullet point bio-bibliographical note of ca. 100 words to Birgit Spengler (bspengler@uni-wuppertal.de), Sylvia Mieszkowski (sylvia.mieszkowski@univie.ac.at), and Mekonnen Tesfahuney (mekonnen.tesfahuney@kau.se) by February 10.

There will be a conference fee of 50 Euros/30 Euros for PhD students.