Elena Fontanari

It's my life. The temporalities of refugees and asylum-seekers within the European border regime

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Subjectivity; Borders; Time; Refugees; Europe.

The article deals with the temporal dimension in migration and border studies, applying the theory of subjectivity that highlights the power dynamics within the forced migration phenomenon in Europe. Drawing on two separate ethnographic research studies with refugees and asylum seekers conducted in Italy and Germany, this article sheds light on how migration control mechanisms influence the everyday life of refugees and impact the temporal dimension of refugees' subjective experience. Despite the historical and socio-economic differences, a general tendency emerges: the intertwining of control and abandonment tends to produce a fragmentation of refugees' everyday lives. Refugee temporalities in Europe alternate between experiences of confinement and hyper-mobility across borders: these lead to the lengthening of migrant temporariness and precariousness. This protracted transit experience is internalized by the refugees and affects their self-construction process. The power dynamics inherent in the European border regime create temporal ruptures that fragment individual biographies; the refugees therefore devise everyday practices of resistance that open up spaces of possibility within the structural constraints in order to re-appropriate autonomous time. Finally, this paper argues that refugees claim temporal, rather than spatial, justice in relation to the biographical time they have wasted since their arrival in Europe. This thesis ultimately aims to consider migration as a process of becoming subjects produced by the intertwining of structural and agency factors.

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