The Colonial Legacies in Asylum and Welfare in Europe

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760). This special issue belongs to the section "International Migration".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2022) | Viewed by 26773

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Gender, Identity and Diversity, Universitat de Barcelona, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
Interests: migration; asylum; othering; racism

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Guest Editor
Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
Interests: politics of asylum particularly in Britain

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue welcomes papers offering empirical, analytical and theoretical contributions regarding the intersections of asylum and welfare in Europe. For more than 30 years, public debates concerning migration and asylum in Europe have repeatedly returned to the question of whether the maintenance of a robust welfare state opposes the reception of international migrants. Weakening asylum protection in the name of the welfare state continues to support a narrative of asylum seekers and refugees to be at a minimum, an illegitimate burden, and grounds exclusionary policies that restrict their access to social protection structures. Public debates frame asylum seekers and refugees as “abusers” of the welfare state “at risk”, calling for increasingly restrictive immigration policies that “protect” social services. While empirical research has consistently rejected this as a false dichotomy, debates are still being framed by socially constructed ideas of otherness and belonging, central to populist and nationalist political projects across Europe. In other words, they are established from the position that immigrants of all kinds are indeed outsiders who have not contributed, and then ask whether it is morally appropriate or economically sensible to include them within the community of eligible welfare recipients. This Special Issue adopts an alternate perspective, from the position that Europe’s colonial past continues to shape the construction of categories of inclusion, belonging and deservingness in European welfare states, irrespective of actual histories of colonial membership and economic contribution. Moving beyond current debates, the Special Issue aims to shift the focus of welfare and asylum research from the ways European states limit asylum seekers and refugees’ access to the welfare state to explore the exclusionary frameworks of states, past and present.

This Special Issue aims to examine the interaction between social protection, welfare and migration policies across coexisting models of governance in Europe. In this pursuit, the Special Issue aims to contribute to, as well as move beyond, current debates, including those regarding the exclusivity approach of generalist social protection structures, inaction and neglect as a form of violence, the criminalization of asylum, welfare as a controlling tool for migration or the impoverishing consequences of current protection systems in Europe.

Topics could include:

  • The problematisations of welfare and asylum systems, not of refugees/asylum seekers.
  • Reflections on the roots of the system: the welfare state and asylum regime.
  • Racism and nationalism in the origins and contemporary institutionalisation of welfare/asylum.
  • The implications of these logics for asylum welfare in the present.
  • Colonial underpinnings of the welfare systems in Europe and its asylum systems.
  • Alternative or resistive models of social protection against state exclusions.
  • Original empirical research.
  • Theoretically focussed critical debates.

Scholars interested in contributing to the Special Issue are invited to submit an abstract of up to 250 words. Please include a title, 4–5 keywords, your name, affiliation and contact information, and send to  before June 15 2022.

Authors of accepted abstracts will be asked to follow the manuscript submission guidelines as detailed under “Instructions to Authors” on the Social Sciences journal page. The deadline for submission of full papers is November 30 2022. All submitted papers will undergo an editorial screening and peer review.

Dr. Olga Jubany
Dr. Lucy Mayblin
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Social Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • asylum
  • welfare
  • colonialism
  • nationalism
  • racism
  • otherness

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

17 pages, 516 KiB  
Article
Offshoring Refugees: Colonial Echoes of the UK-Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership
by Michael Collyer and Uttara Shahani
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(8), 451; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12080451 - 11 Aug 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 7267
Abstract
British proposals to forcibly deport asylum seekers to Rwanda have raised fierce opposition from across the political spectrum in the UK and internationally. These proposals differ from official practices of deportation as they have developed in liberal democracies since the 1970s. There are [...] Read more.
British proposals to forcibly deport asylum seekers to Rwanda have raised fierce opposition from across the political spectrum in the UK and internationally. These proposals differ from official practices of deportation as they have developed in liberal democracies since the 1970s. There are certainly some international parallels, such as Australia’s ‘Pacific Solution’ of ‘offshoring’ asylum, which is often cited as an inspiration. Yet a much clearer precedent involving the forcible movement of people to countries where they have no personal or legal connection existed for many years in the British Empire. Colonial policies of forcible removal, relocation, displacement, and dispersal around the Empire are well established. We draw attention to these longer histories before investigating more recent cases of the dispersal of refugees within the British Empire in the twentieth century. In many cases, such forced dispersal concerned those who had been recognised as refugees who were interned and subsequently moved elsewhere in the Empire. Such policies were designed to prevent the arrival of refugees in the UK. These policies have provided inspiration for asylum practices in some postcolonial states—Israel is reported to have reached an agreement with Uganda and Rwanda to deport asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea, although these are not public. In this paper, we highlight how these colonial practices of forcible displacement of individuals inform the current agreement between the UK and Rwanda. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Colonial Legacies in Asylum and Welfare in Europe)
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22 pages, 423 KiB  
Article
The Colonised Self: The Politics of UK Asylum Practices, and the Embodiment of Colonial Power in Lived Experience
by Julie Walsh and Maria Teresa Ferazzoli
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(7), 382; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12070382 - 28 Jun 2023
Viewed by 2570
Abstract
This paper draws on empirical data generated in the ‘Everyday Bordering in the UK’ project, with a focus on the experiences of people seeking asylum and hoping to establish a safe life in the UK. Specifically, we show that during the process of [...] Read more.
This paper draws on empirical data generated in the ‘Everyday Bordering in the UK’ project, with a focus on the experiences of people seeking asylum and hoping to establish a safe life in the UK. Specifically, we show that during the process of claiming asylum, people’s experiences of waiting and displacement—practices inherent in UK immigration policies—work as time- and space-based dimensions of power that are imbued with colonial logic. Existing studies apply the lens of Foucault’s governmentality approach to politics regulating people seeking asylum. In particular, the international literature describes the policy of dispersal, and associated periods of waiting, as a dynamic of power used by governments to control and regulate behaviours. However, these time- and space-related experiences are often considered separately, focusing on the rationalities underpinning these politics. This paper, by contrast, develops Foucault’s theories by examining how these two characteristics interconnect in the lived realities of people waiting for an asylum decision in the UK to create racialised politics of power and privilege that reproduce the colonial origins of European migration governance. In doing so, we contribute by illustrating how practices within the UK asylum system can be embodied by people seeking asylum to create a subject that modifies behaviours in response to being positioned as ‘less deserving’ than UK citizens—the ‘colonised self’. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Colonial Legacies in Asylum and Welfare in Europe)
14 pages, 308 KiB  
Article
Refusing the Gift of Welfare: Syrians’ Encounters with the Danish State
by Malene H. Jacobsen
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(6), 351; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12060351 - 13 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1393
Abstract
This paper traces the colonial logics embedded within Western states’ welfare and workfare programs. The imperial and capitalist underpinnings of Western welfare states have been well elaborated. Less research has focused on the colonial logics and strategies at work in their administration of [...] Read more.
This paper traces the colonial logics embedded within Western states’ welfare and workfare programs. The imperial and capitalist underpinnings of Western welfare states have been well elaborated. Less research has focused on the colonial logics and strategies at work in their administration of welfare and ‘integration’ programs targeting newly arrived refugees. Drawing on ethnographic work with Syrian refugees living in Denmark, I examine Syrians’ encounters with the Danish welfare state and the five-year mandatory ‘integration’ program. Through Syrians’ accounts, I argue that we can begin to re-narrate the nature and meaning of contemporary welfare states and the colonial and racialized policing logics that structure and sustain them. More specifically, Syrians’ accounts draw attention to the often-overlooked roles that welfare regimes perform in maintaining colonial, racialized hierarchies of humanity as well as extractive and dispositive processes typically understood as economic aid and sustenance. Moreover, Syrians’ experiences of the Danish welfare state help to unpack the centrality in un- and under-paid forms of labor that refugee communities are required to perform, thereby enabling capital to materially benefit from stigmatized Others living in Denmark. Thus, by centering racial capitalism, this article contributes to scholars’ emerging attention to the coloniality of ‘integration’ and how this imperative manifests in practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Colonial Legacies in Asylum and Welfare in Europe)
12 pages, 308 KiB  
Article
Critical Reflections on the Western Welfare State, Racial Capitalism, and Migratory Movements
by Rosa Lázaro Castellanos
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(5), 271; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12050271 - 2 May 2023
Viewed by 1548
Abstract
This article presents a theoretical reflection on the structural causes that lead people to engage in migration processes from an anti-racist perspective. It looks at the historical context and the present times of neoliberal capitalism as a long term system, with its origins [...] Read more.
This article presents a theoretical reflection on the structural causes that lead people to engage in migration processes from an anti-racist perspective. It looks at the historical context and the present times of neoliberal capitalism as a long term system, with its origins in the colonial enterprise. This is relevant as it gives rise to the asymmetries of power between North and South; to the racial division of labour; to the border control that turns immigrant people into the dangerous other, classifies people according to their origin, and grants them differential rights. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Colonial Legacies in Asylum and Welfare in Europe)
18 pages, 358 KiB  
Article
Governing Asylum without ‘‘Being There”: Ghost Bureaucracy, Outsourcing, and the Unreachability of the State
by Caterina Borelli, Arnau Poy and Alèxia Rué
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(3), 169; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12030169 - 11 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2843
Abstract
When, where, and how do asylum seekers encounter the state? Anyone seeking asylum in the Global North might meet state authorities of the country where they want to apply for international protection long before arriving at its borders. However, if the state often [...] Read more.
When, where, and how do asylum seekers encounter the state? Anyone seeking asylum in the Global North might meet state authorities of the country where they want to apply for international protection long before arriving at its borders. However, if the state often becomes “very present” by transcending its geopolitical margins in border control, once asylum seekers have managed to cross into national territory, the state frequently vanishes. Insufficient information, opaque proceedings, difficulties in reaching state agencies, which dramatically increased with the COVID pandemic, often translate into a denial of asylum seekers' rights and their exclusion from welfare programs. Moreover, following a widespread tendency to outsource public services, access to asylum and related welfare programmes are being increasingly mediated by a range of nonstate actors (such as NGOs, activist groups, companies, and individuals) acting as state agents. Drawing on the analysis of ethnographic results from Spain and Italy, this article proposes the concept of “ghost bureaucracy” to theorise the street-level bureaucrats from their absence and explore asylum seekers’ encounters with a seemingly powerful and omnipresent but unreachable state through closed offices, digital bureaucracy and third-party actors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Colonial Legacies in Asylum and Welfare in Europe)
18 pages, 354 KiB  
Article
The Racialized Welfare Discourse on Refugees and Asylum Seekers: The Example of “Scroungers” in Italy
by Fabio Perocco and Francesco Della Puppa
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(2), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12020059 - 20 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2946
Abstract
The rise of anti-immigrant racism over the past two decades has taken place through multiple mechanisms and processes, including the resurgence of welfare racism, which has been re-functionalized towards refugees and asylum seekers. As a key weapon of today’s sovereignism and white supremacism, [...] Read more.
The rise of anti-immigrant racism over the past two decades has taken place through multiple mechanisms and processes, including the resurgence of welfare racism, which has been re-functionalized towards refugees and asylum seekers. As a key weapon of today’s sovereignism and white supremacism, the “return” of welfare racism is intrinsic to the rise of neo-liberal racism and is an integral part of a global process of erosion of social rights, weakening of social citizenship, and dismantling of the welfare state. Welfare racism—a combination of racial discrimination in the welfare system and racialized welfare discourse—operates through discriminatory laws and measures related to social benefits and through public discourses depicting refugees, immigrants, and people of color as parasites and scroungers sponging off the welfare state. The resurgence of welfare racism in the last decade has seen the specific spread of welfare racism against refugees and asylum seekers as part of the dual war on asylum and on the welfare state. This article examines the ideological-discursive dimension of welfare racism (that is, the public discourses, rhetoric, and images), first analyzing the development, dimensions, and characteristics of racialized welfare discourse more generally, then focusing on racialized welfare discourses about refugees and asylum seekers in contemporary Italy. It explores the arguments and conceptual metaphors of the racialized welfare discourse on asylum seekers, revealing the devices and dynamics at play in the construction of the refugee as a “scrounger” and welfare abuser. Furthermore, it highlights the consequences of racialized welfare discourse on public policies (particularly on social policies and welfare controls), on migration policies (particularly on immigration controls and internal controls), and on the relationship between citizens and migrants, receiving societies, and newcomers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Colonial Legacies in Asylum and Welfare in Europe)
13 pages, 297 KiB  
Article
Legacies of British Imperialism in the Contemporary UK Asylum–Welfare Nexus
by Rachel Humphris
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(10), 432; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11100432 - 21 Sep 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2597
Abstract
This article traces the imperial roots of the contemporary asylum–welfare nexus. It explores how English colonial governance exported Poor Law legislation firstly to colonial America (USA) and secondly to British North America (Canada). It argues that these three countries are an Anglophone shared [...] Read more.
This article traces the imperial roots of the contemporary asylum–welfare nexus. It explores how English colonial governance exported Poor Law legislation firstly to colonial America (USA) and secondly to British North America (Canada). It argues that these three countries are an Anglophone shared moral space of law and governance, revealing the common unresolved contradictions underpinning contemporary debates about who ‘deserves’ entry, under what conditions, and why. Historical perspectives unsettle assumptions about the primacy of national geopolitical borders and the exceptionalism of contemporary migration. This article uses historical sociology to trace why and how national sovereignty took primacy over municipalities in controlling the mobility of people and the concomitant moral underpinnings. It then draws on new empirical research in three pioneering ‘sanctuary cities’ to explore how cities contest the entwining of welfare and migration governance. However, the article explores how these initiatives often reproduce justifications based on ‘deservingness’ and ‘contribution’. Through tracing the common threads that led to these forms of governance, we can understand they are not self-evident. A historical perspective allows us to ask different questions and open realms of alternative possibilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Colonial Legacies in Asylum and Welfare in Europe)
17 pages, 327 KiB  
Article
Asylum, Racism, and the Structural Production of Sexual Violence against Racialised Women in Exile in Paris
by Jane Freedman, Nina Sahraoui and Elsa Tyszler
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(10), 426; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11100426 - 20 Sep 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3492
Abstract
The recent arrival of refugees from Ukraine has thrown into sharp focus the racialised colonial underpinnings of the French asylum and refugee system, as the open-door welcome afforded to Ukrainians, supposedly “closer” to the French population, highlights the rejection and marginalisation of “others” [...] Read more.
The recent arrival of refugees from Ukraine has thrown into sharp focus the racialised colonial underpinnings of the French asylum and refugee system, as the open-door welcome afforded to Ukrainians, supposedly “closer” to the French population, highlights the rejection and marginalisation of “others” who seek refuge in the country. The current situation lays bare not only the “double standards” applied to refugees depending on their country of origin and race, but also the colonial foundations of the French asylum system as a whole. This might be seen as particularly significant in a country where even within academic research on asylum and refugees the racial and colonial foundations of the current system are rarely mentioned, and where the principle of Republican universalism has been consistently used to both hide and justify racialised and gendered forms of inequality and discrimination. In this contribution we wish to explore the ways in which the coloniality of the French asylum system works to deny exiled women access to welfare and social services, creating systems of racialised and gendered violence against them. We highlight the ways in which the State not only neglects these women, but actively contributes to violence through its racialised neo-liberal policies. The withdrawal of access to welfare and social services, including housing, welfare payments or health services, all form a part of this system of structural violence which leads to increasing levels of harm. Based on ethnographic research carried out in the Paris region, our article aims to emphasise that the structural production of gendered violence, particularly sexual violence against racialised exiled women, illustrates the coloniality of the asylum system and more broadly of the migration regime, which manifests itself in policies of exclusion, neglect and endangerment—including death. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Colonial Legacies in Asylum and Welfare in Europe)
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