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In contemporary discussions on globalization, the world is often conceived as more borderless than ever, a world where free movement has almost been realized. Yet, the possibilities of mobility are unequally distributed. Tourists and businessmen from the global North are able to travel almost unhindered, while refugees and labour migrants from the South are restricted by both economic boundaries and an increasing surveillance at the national frontiers. In Fronesis no. 27, the implications of this new geography of inequality are discussed in regard to the right to free movement, the organization of labour, nation-state borders, and our attitudes towards migrants.

In many of the articles, the consequences of increasing labour mobility are addressed, thus connecting to contemporary debates on the situation of "undocumented immigrants", and on the labour movement's approach towards labour migration. Historian Håkan Blomqvist makes an exhaustive historical survey of the attitudes within the Swedish trade union movement towards labour migration – from the nineteenth century onwards – combining ideals of internationalism with national self-interest. The author Olle Sahlström has visited trade union organizations in Europe and interviewed American trade union activist Triana Silton, enquiring about the new strategies that have evolved to handle a more boundless labour market and to include undocumented immigrants in the trade unions.

Sociologist John Torpey explores nation-states' increased power over their borders, examining the role of the passport, the ID, and different techniques of surveillance, which all play a greater role in directing migration flows. Political scientist Aristide Zolberg discusses the "unholy alliances" being created when different political forces and interests try to shape immigration policies to their advantage. French sociologist Abdelmalek Sayad, one of Pierre Bourdieu's close collaborators, scrutinizes how "state thought" shapes our image of the immigrant and immigration.

The increasingly profitable trade with "foreign wives" is discussed by American political scientist Bonnie Honig, who regards it as an expression of our society's ambivalent attitude towards "foreignness". Italian political scientist Sandro Mezzadra focuses on "the right to escape", claiming that migrants should not only be regarded as passive victims of an unjust order, but also as individuals contesting this very order and thereby showing how other modes of action are possible.

Fronesis no 27 also includes texts by Anja Weiss, Mikael Spång, Joacim Blomqvist, Johan Vaide, Denis Frank, and others.


Published 2008-06-12

Original in Swedish
© Fronesis
© Eurozine

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