Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

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Policing the Borders of the 'Centaur State': Deportation, Detention, and Neoliberal Transformation Processes—The Case of Austria

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Abstract:  Excessive policing of borders and mobilities is one of the key features of current migration regimes in the global North and West. Using Austria as example, this article examines some of the links between the recent development of deportation policies and broad societal transformations—namely neoliberal restructuring. The main argument is that the new model of policing borders and mobilities can be meaningfully characterised as neoliberal in three respects: (i) its structure corresponds to a neoliberal political rationality, (ii) it is functional for current politico-economic relations, and (iii) it is promoted by the very social relations it contributes to. The paper builds on recent studies of how deportation regimes structure labour relations, but moves the focus from the economic function to the form and formation of deportation policies. Concerning the form of regulation, a comparison of current legal frameworks with those of the Cold-War era unveils some crucial features of newly emergent border regimes. First, policing has been massively extended and intensified; second, the criteria for differentiating the vulnerability to policing have grown in number and complexity; third, it is more and more mobility itself that is being policed; and, finally, the punitive turn affects mainly the margins of current global mobility, while the top and center enjoy increased security of residence and mobility rights. Regarding the formation of these new deportation policies, this article uses salient shifts in political discourse as a starting point to illustrate the complexity and context-dependency of the political processes involved.

Keywords:  asylum; deportation; labour migration; neoliberalism; precarisation; societal transformation



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