Professor Nick Vaughan-Williams gives lecture at Oxford Brookes University
On Monday 11 February 2019 Professor Nick Vaughan-Williams delivered a public lecture on the findings of the 'Border Narratives' research project at the Centre for Global Politics, Economy, and Society, Oxford Brookes University:
'“Taking back control” in an age of walling: Border narratives of crisis and desire in Europe’
Nick Vaughan-Williams, University of Warwick
The overwhelming governmental response to what has retroactively been packaged as Europe’s 2015-16 ‘migration-’ and/or ‘refugee-’ crisis was to turn to tougher border security. While the EU Commission expressed humanitarian concern for the 1,000s of people who died in the Mediterranean Sea, the 2015 ‘European Agenda on Migration’ reflected a deterrent approach. Many EU Member States resorted to physical walling amounting to 1,000 KM in direct response to the perceived threat of ‘irregular migration’. At the same time, widespread public perceptions of weak border control were reported by opinion polls, politicians, and news outlets. Populist movements with anti-immigration slogans at their core – and incantations to ‘take back control’ of borders and sovereignty – began to spread across the continent in a widespread politics of backlash. This begs the question: Why have populist calls to ‘take back control’ of borders flourished precisely when border security and walling have intensified? The talk offers a preliminary response by drawing upon the findings of the ‘Border Narratives’ project funded by the Leverhulme Trust at the University of Warwick, which held group interviews with citizens in 2016-17 across 11 EU cities. Vernacular narratives of the ‘crisis’ offer in-depth insight into the concepts and categories used by citizens to understand migration and border security, their fears and desires in relation to mobile populations, and actually-existing alternatives to dominant fantasies of control.