The Politicised Biology of Irregular Migrants

Micropractices of control, tactics of everyday life and access to healthcare

Open access


Norway provides limited healthcare for irregular migrants, partly to make the country an unattractive option for ‘would-be refugees’. Drawing on fieldwork and interviews, this article discusses the use of healthcare to regulate migration and how irregular migrants make use of different tactics (creative access, selfcare, ignoring symptoms and raison d’être) to gain access to healthcare despite legal restrictions. The migrants’ tactics are adaptations to the micropractices of control and are about a diseased and politicised biology. They illuminate ways to care or not care for the body from a marginal position. This research, then, highlights how migrants work to restore a political life against the sovereign construction of them as mere biology. While some of these tactics are ways in which migrants can survive without healthcare rights in the short run, other tactics may contest and disrupt how the government is defining and treating irregular migrants in the longer run

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