Accueil > Research > Theme 2. The fabrication of otherness, racism and discriminations

Program 2.1. Mobilities and figures of otherness

- Researchers : F. Lestage, S. Potot, C. Quiminal, J. Streiff-Fénart
- Associated researcher : Ph. Poutignat
- Doctoral students : M. Belqasmi, N. Liberona, L. Tassin

The production of new categories of otherness can first be detected in the representations produced by migratory flows themselves. These flows do not only influence mobility, but also modify the relationship to otherness in many sending, receiving, or transitional countries. URMIS’s work in sub-saharan Africa, in the Maghreb or in Latin America shows the advantages of analyzing representations of otherness that are directly associated with migratory experiences, and with the status of migrants. These shifting categories redraw the borders of national, cultural, ethnic or familial “imagined communities”, or on the contrary, sometimes lead to individual strategies of emancipation and separation from established groups.

The research projects in this program question the constructions/representations of otherness and the multiple forms of constructing “the national” and “the foreign”, in sending countries as well as in receiving countries. A heuristic means of approaching the collective imaginings and the representations of the migratory experience is to examine the vernacular or vernacularized lexical categories that have been used or are used to enunciate the act of leaving, the migratory voyage ; to designate, distinguish and name emigrants according to various destinations and localizations, and different statuses as migrants – students, manual laborers, elite athletes, intellectuals, artists, politicians, individuals born within a diaspora. The projects brought together in this program address the problem of figures of otherness as it is related to obstacles to mobility and the processes of categorization and criminalization of groups that emerge and circulate between spaces of emigration and spaces of immigration.

One part of the research deals with new figures of otherness in West Africa, in the Maghreb and in Latin America by questioning the way that the home societies of migrants perceive the status of “the undocumented” and the reintegration of the deported ; the situations of social disintegration, in the zones of departure, that is caused by the regulations that preside over North-South circulations and their effects of disaffiliation from national, local, and familial forms of belonging ; attempts to transform ties of solidarity and mutual aid between migrants in the form of collective organization that manifests itself in public space.

Other research focuses on the production of new categories of marginality (“undocumented”, “illegal”, “detained”, etc.), that embody the limits between inclusion in and exclusion from the government.

These questions will be addressed through the following studies :

- Associations of deported migrants in Senegal, Mauritania and Mali ((J. Streiff-Fénart et Ph. Poutignat)
- Young deported Tunisian migrants (S. Potot)
- Redefinition of the migratory question in Mali (C. Quiminal)
- The question of migrant aide in Mexico (F. Lestage)

Doctoral theses in progress : the social question of Peruvian migrants in Chili (N. Liberona) ; migrations of Central and Eastern European Roms (M Belqasmi) ; the production of marginality through European migratory policies and in methods of border security in France, Italy, and Greece (L. Tassin).