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Title: Shifting borders, law and human mobility in the European Union and in China
Author: Pasquali, Paola
ISNI:       0000 0004 7426 0489
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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Securing external borders and combating irregular migration currently rank among the top priorities in EU migration management and are often quoted as evidence of a growing securitisation of (non-EU) migration. On the contrary, despite increasing numbers of both internal and international migrants, border enforcement in China has been relaxed over the last decades. This thesis presents new insights on the current trend of securitisation of non-EU migration characterising the European context through a comparative study of China’s migration regime. The thesis begins with a rebuttal of the commonly held notion that borders are territorial or natural entities. Drawing on Foucault’s notion of governmentality as a mode of operation of government which has the population as its main target, I argue that borders exist as processes governing the mobility of populations. I adopt a definition of borders as shifting conglomerates of laws, policies and measures operating as obstacles or incentives to mobility across politico-legal spaces. I further posit a comparative legal perspective with China as the most apt way to gain a fresh perspective on borders and their securitisation in the EU context. The comparative enterprise commences with an outline of the recent history of migration legal frameworks and categories of mobility in the European Union. The narration identifies a growing trend of securitisation of (non-EU) migration as a correlate of the abolition of internal border controls as well as of the constitution of EU citizenship. I further postulate that as humanitarian and security concerns are currently the main currencies in EU migration management, the way in which the latter operates has deep economic underpinnings which are not openly articulated in legal and policy discourse. I then pan to the recent history of China’s migration regime and categories of mobility. The account reveals how from severe restrictions on internal and international migration during Maoism – where unplanned migration was perceived as a security threat to the socialist state – the management of migration has recently shifted to a more liberal approach as a result of China’s transition to a socialist market economy. I also highlight how the overall de-securitisation of migration in the Chinese context has been driven by an open, at time ruthless, pursuit of economic growth as the main policy goal in migration management. The comparative account on migration management in the two contexts leads me to identify a forthright economic approach to migration management in the Chinese case as opposed to a tacit market approach to the management of migration in the EU context, where humanitarian discourses and security concerns have become the two main categories through which non-EU migration is framed. Tackling the issue of migration predominantly as an economic matter, China’s current migration system stands as an alternative to the present conventional wisdom framing non-EU migration as a security matter in the EU context. The counterpoint of the Chinese migration regime further allows for a better understanding of the very dynamics at play in the continuation of the securitisation trend. Keywords: Borders, Human Mobility, Governmentality, Foucault, Migration Management, Comparative Law, European Union, China, Hukou System, Internal Migration, Neoliberalism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available