Authors Meet Critics: Harald Bauder’s Migration Borders Freedom and Pierpaolo Mudu and Sutapa Chattopadhyay’s Migration, Squatting and Radical Autonomy

Authors Meet Critics

Migration Borders Freedom
By Harald Bauder

Migration, Squatting and Radical Autonomy
Edited by Pierpaolo Mudu and Sutapa Chattopadhyay

American Association of Geographers 2017 Annual Meeting, Boston, April

Migration, Squatting and Radical Autonomy, edited by Pierpaolo Mudu and Sutapa Chattopadhyay, contains 23 chapters written by scholars, activists, and scholar-activists on the overlaps between the spaces of migrant and squatter activism and resistance, particularly in Europe. Migration Borders Freedom is a monograph by Harald Bauder discussing the possibilities of open borders and no border, exploring linkages between freedom of migration, belonging, citizenship, and rights.

At the American Association of Geographers (AAG) annual meeting in Boston critics met Harald Bauder, Sutapa Chattopadhyay and Pierpaolo Mudu. Moderated by Nik Theodore (University of Illinois at Chicago), the panel of critics comprised of Laura Pulido (University of Oregon) and Reece Jones (University of Hawaii). Below are the highlights of this session, in which panelists and authors take central themes of the books and connect it to wider understandings of politics, resistance and social change.

  • After highlighting activism and acts of resistance as essences of the books, Laura Pulido shares three pieces of thought: mobility as the ‘right to be’, the large apparatuses of power and control activists are up against, and the importance of contextualizing today’s efforts within a longer temporal framework.

  • Laura Pulido offers a post-colonial understanding of contemporary immigration, acts of resistance and activism. Using Mexico and the United States as an example, she discusses the connection between immigration today with the ‘persistence of the right,’ the ‘rise and fall of slavery’ in the United States, and that of colonization in Mexico.

  • Reece Jones on how the current nationalist and right-wing social milieu is fueling counter-dialogue in powerful and contemporary ways.

  • Reece Jones on the link between squatting and migration, particularly on the desire of the state to ‘contain’ and ‘locate’ those on the move.

  • Harald Bauder addresses the panel’s points on the role of dialogue and activism in a post-Brexit, Trump-led world. He describes an ongoing dialectic between practice and social change. Further, he explains that the term possibilia, which he coins in his book, describes a world beyond our current imagination, and that in the meantime we need to focus on existing structures, or contingent possibilities, for change.

  • Harald Bauder responds to Reece Jones’ question of how social justice ‘cracks’ in the current nationalist and right-wing milieu can be opened further.

  • Harald Bauder addresses comments by Laura Pulido and Reece Jones respectively on overlaps between migrants and Indigenous dispossession, and the conflicting relationship between the state and those who move around.

  • Pierpaolo Mudu comments on the publication as a series of migrant subjectivities as collectivities on the forefront of resistance, as a challenge to common constructions of migrants as victims, numbers or trends in literature and popular media.

  • Pierpaolo Mudu briefly on the perspective of migrants on needs vis-à-vis rights, and politics vis-à-vis their realities.

  • Pierpaolo Mudu’s closing comments on autonomy and agency, the neoliberal machinery, and various instruments used by states to illegalize and detain migrants and activists.

Content and video selection by Bianca Gomez (Ryerson University).

Special thanks to Sutapa Chattopadhyay (University of Regina) for transcribing the session.