Borderwork in times of crisis? Control, care and the resource of emotion
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This thesis explores an internal EU border in Northern Europe during a ‘crisis’ scenario. In the aftermath of the Syrian Civil War, during 2015 Sweden received 160,000 applications for asylum, the third highest total number in Europe. Consequently, Sweden introduced three forms of border controls to restrict numbers, marking a significant shift in Swedish asylum policy. This thesis engages with the notion of ‘political moments’ concerning how occasions of heightened visibilities could be appropriated and brought into the political milieu in Sweden and Denmark during 2015-2016 and subsequently used in the operations of borderwork by state and non-state actors. Borderwork is understood in this thesis in a Rumfordian manner, where state and non-state actors can contribute to actions of bordering and debordering. The thesis analyses Sweden’s border controls, grounded in particular contextualities and operating within a specific EU legal framework. This thesis draws on semi-structured interviews with 53 individuals primarily from the state and civil society in both countries. Complexities within and between civil society and the state concerning borderwork are shown as being interpenetrating, and the state’s pervasive extension is explored through ‘the Snake’ and Posthusplatsen. Emotion as a political resource (which can be appealed to, framed and (re)produced to shape discourses) is analysed and seen vis-à-vis the political left and right as a mobilising force in both bordering and debordering. Finally, and as part of this, the notion of mourning is explored concerning the evocative question: Is this Sweden?
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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