Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Whose Security? Migration-(In)security Dilemmas Ten Years After 9/11



Project Description

Since the events of 9/11, security concerns have topped the political agendas of western governments. Given that the attacks of 9/11 were carried out by non-state agents, then the old Cold War argument that the concept of security should include non-military threats has gained currency among governments. Among the important, perceived non-military threats included in the analysis of state security is migration. According to Buzan "The threat of migration is fundamentally a question of how relative numbers interact with the absorptive and adaptive capacities of society ... The fear of being swamped by foreigners ... is easy to mobilize on the political agenda as a security issue." (People, States & Fear: The National Security Problem in International Relations, 1983).

Consequently, western states have adopted intense 'securitisation' measures within migration policy frameworks as politicians, media and public come to regard foreign students, asylum seekers, refugees and other migrant categories as potential terrorists exploiting immigration policies and procedures. However, while migration is seen as an issue of state security and societal protection, it has also given rise to insecurities amongst migrant and ethnic minority populations of Muslim origin in particular. However, there is little evidence to suggest that stricter passport controls and visa checks, indefinite detention, deportation, intense surveillance and other measures implemented in destination countries actually protect wider society. There is evidence that all such measures do is harm the human security and safety of citizens (including established ethnic minorities) and of migrants entering or residing in western countries and can lead to the economic and/or sexual exploitation of particularly vulnerable groups. In addition, migrants suffer disproportionately the effects of global economic recession and accompanying social instability.

The study of migration therefore poses an as yet unresolved dilemma: whether to approach the issue from a state or human-centric perspective and whether, or to what extent, these divergent approaches can be reconciled. The questions flowing from this dilemma are important for policy-makers and practitioners, but also need to be understood and debated by an informed general public. It is essential that questions of the 'human rights deficit', economic precarity, racism and hostility and the exploitation of vulnerable migrants are part of academic critiques and alternative policy approaches.

The proposed seminars provide an opportunity to (re)think some of these questions and invite scholars and policy makers to draw on evidence, gathered over a decade, on the evolution of migration, 'securitised' migration policies and their impact on migrants and on the majority societies in which they arrive and settle. The main objectives of the seminars are a) to provide a critical review and analysis of migration agendas, policies, implementation processes which focus on the securitisation of migration and of the consequences, for migrant communities (and also majority societies) of managing migration issues from a security angle; b) to use this review and analysis to shape policy alternatives for the future.

It is intended that the seminar series will propose alternative policy approaches, where these are required, to ensure that human rights are safeguarded, civil liberties promoted and democratic principles upheld. The seminar series also aims to create an ongoing collaboration between academics and users in order to allow for an exchange and sharing of knowledge about theoretical and empirical research and about the connection between carrying out research and using results produced. In the long term, the seminar series will have contributed to better knowledge of migration and (in)security and to informed public debate.

For further information please contact:



university of warwick logo

university of leicester logo

esrc logo