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CONGRESPRESENTATIE


abstract

Citizens increasingly respond to the greater visibility of migration by means of taking part in mobility regulation themselves. Examples are civic initiatives to accommodate refugees, to travel to the Greek islands to provide first aid, and even to navigate to the Mediterranean Sea to set up rescue operations. Apart from initiatives demonstrating support towards migrants, grassroots actions demonstrating opposition towards migrants similarly entered the stage, such as citizens engaging in anti-migrant surveillance.

The ideal of active citizenship as subjectivity promoted over the last decades seems to encourage these mobilizations of affective and vigilantcitizens. Whereas bottom-up initiatives of responsibilized publics are often applauded for manifesting societal energies that would enhance policy legitimacy and social cohesion, the adverse may be observed in current mobilizations. By articulately opposing the government – either blaming it for not doing enough to support or instead oppose migration - civic initiatives may influence migration politics by challenging policy legitimacy. In reaction, citizen’s actions face the risk of being politically discouraged or even criminalized - thus revealing the limits set for counter-democratic participation. Moreover, civic initiatives may effect a bottom-up reproduction ofsocial divides, both among migrants and between migrants and citizens.

The figure of the migrant resonates with the figure of those not ‘mature enough’ to meet up to the ideal of the self-reliant individual - the assumed moral dichotomy underlying responsibilization being dependency versus independency. It will be shown how, as a consequence, capillary civic mobilizations reinforce the inextricability of politics of care and control in the public sphere.