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The Politicised Biology of Irregular Migrants

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

Synnøve Bendixsen

Abstract

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

Open access

Synnøve Bendixsen

Abstract

Most research on irregular migrants in the Scandinavian countries takes an exclusive nation-state focus in the study of how irregular migrants’ everyday lives are structured and shaped. In this article, I add a transnational lens and explicitly focus on how their irregularity shapes the transnational social fields that they make use of and transform. Including a transnational gaze draws attention towards how irregular migrants’ agency in Norway is not merely defined by the state’s various technologies of control. Transnational kinship and social networks facilitate and shape their continued existence as irregular migrants and profoundly affect decisions to stay, return or continue their migration. They open up possibilities and spaces in which the state is restrained in its potential for exercising power and control mobility and irregularity in its territory. At the same time, however, these transnational practices are structured, shaped and transfigured by the nation-states’ management of migrants as irregular.

Open access

Lena Näre and Synnøve Bendixsen

Open access

Lena Näre and Synnøve Bendixsen

Open access

Synnøve Bendixsen and Lena Näre

Open access

Lena Näre and Synnøve Bendixsen