Struggles Around Representation and in/Visibility in Everyday Migrant Irregularity in Sweden

Maja Sager 1
  • 1 Department of Gender Studies, Lund University, Sweden

Abstract

This article explores tensions between visibility and invisibility of irregularity in Sweden. It focuses on irregular migrants’ social rights and their self-representation. The analysis builds mainly on ethnographic material mapping migrants’ and activists’ experiences of seeking asylum, living in irregularity and/or getting involved in struggles for migrants’ rights in Sweden. Furthermore, material from news media and political debate on migration and asylum rights is used to contextualise the interview material. The analysis suggests that the lived experiences of irregularity are shaped not only between systematic invisibility and violent forms of visibility but also visibility in terms of increased self-representation and autonomy. Furthermore, the analysis shows a shift towards increased social rights for irregular migrants from mid-2000s to 2013 and the establishment of irregular migrants as a social category and as political actors in their own right. However, the article also points towards increased repression against this ‘new’ category.

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