Forced Immobility and Forced Mobility During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Rethinking the Notion of Forced Migration

Seminars and Colloquia

In the global conjuncture of pandemic and war, borders and mobilities continue to play key roles in the mutations of politics and society, states and capitalism. Based on a project Sandro Mezzadra is currently pursuing with Brett Neilson, this seminar focused in particular on the shifts characterizing the management of borders and movements of migration since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mezzadra described the combination of forced immobility and mobility that shapes migrant experiences in different parts of the world well beyond the terms of the debate on forced migration, which focuses on refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons. He also payed attention to the multiplication and further heterogenization of borders during the pandemic, as well as analyzing these trends in the framework of the processes of renationalization, financialization and platformization that were already in train before the outbreak.

While Mezzadra tackled the question of mobility even beyond migration, focusing on the logistical techniques and technologies that govern the global circulation of people and things, he concluded by recalling movements and struggles of migration with an empirical attention to China, India, the Americas, and the Mediterranean.

Sandro Mezzadra is Professor in Political Philosophy at the University of Bologna and is adjunct fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society of the Western Sydney University. Among his books are: Diritto di fuga. Migrazioni, cittadinanza, globalizzazione (2006), La condizione postcoloniale. Storia e politica nel presente globale (2008), Nei cantieri marxiani. Il soggetto e la sua produzione (2014; English edition In the Marxian Workshops, 2018) and Un mondo da guadagnare. Per una teoria politica del presente (2020). With Brett Neilson he is the author of Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor (Duke University Press, 2013) and of The Politics of Operations. Excavating Contemporary Capitalism (Duke University Press, 2019).

Ayşe Çağlar, IWM Permanent Fellow, moderated the discussion.


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