In 2018, the European Council suggested “regional disembarkation platforms” as an innovative externalization of displacement management in the Mediterranean. Yet, the logic of naval interception, deportation and disembarkation zones parallel not only Western proposals since the 1980s, but also colonial practices during the transatlantic slave trade. An overview of European externalization politics between 2006 and 2018 examines the dynamics, ambiguity and dehistoricization of humanitarianized border control. The article then argues that such ahistoricity is linked to epistemologies which reproduce colonial matrices of power. Like asylum politics today, slavery was a crucial structuring issue in nineteenth century international politics and by unearthing a deep history of European manufactured displacements, the article examines cases of racialized, suppressionist and externalized border controls from the nineteenth century Atlantic-Caribbean Basins. It concludes that contingent parallels exist between past and present regimes of captured, rescued and re-displaced people, and associated transfers of humanitarian blame and responsibility.
Author(s): Lemberg-Pedersen, Martin
Publisher or Journal: Global Affairs 5, 2019, 247-271
Year of Publication: 2019
Document Type: Article