Reconfiguring Desecuritization: Contesting Expert Knowledge in the Securitization of Migration

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


This article introduces desecuritization as the missing supplement of the conception of securitization as a dispersed social process. It calls for the creative development of approaches that destabilise the credibility of security professionals’ claimed expert knowledge. To illustrate the potential of this approach, the article combines insights from the sociology of ignorance (agnotology) and the autonomy of migration literature to deconstruct the framing of migrants as cunning tricksters, a narrative that features prominently in processes of securitization. Within the Schengen visa regime discussed in this article, the trickster narrative emerges in the portrayal of visa applicants as deploying various modes of deception like ‘document fraud’ or ‘visa shopping’. Based on ethnographic fieldwork at consulates in North Africa, this article demonstrates, in contrast, that practices like applying at a consulate known for a more liberal decision-making practice constitute coping strategies by which migrants try to mitigate the uncertainty that a culture of suspicion, the discretionary power of consular staff and the heterogeneity of opaque decision-making criteria create for them. Ultimately, the analysis shows that security practices produce not only knowledge, but also various forms of nonknowledge which provoke the instances of ‘trickery’ that ever more pervasive security practices are supposed to forestall.

Seiten (von - bis)1042-1068
Anzahl der Seiten27
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.08.2022
Extern publiziertJa

Bibliographische Notiz

Funding Information:
The author would like to thank Claudia Aradau, Leonie Anselm de Vries as well as the editors of this special issue for extremely helpful comments on previous versions of this article. Earlier version of this article were presented at two workshops at the University of Bern and the Centre for Transnational Cooperation Research of the University Duisburg-Essen. Again, the author would like to thank the participants of both workshops for valuable comments, questions and suggestions that have helped to improve the arguments advanced in this article. In particular I would like to acknowledge the following people (in alphabetical order): Lisa Borelli, Katja Freistein, Frank Gadinger, Volker Heinz, Annika Lindberg, Sigrid Quack, Anna Wyss. Finally, I would like to thank Mischka, my furry pal who left me half way through this article: thank you for all the inspirational walks and decent time spent together. I will miss you.

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