Sabine Hess

“Citizens on the road”

Migration, borders and the reconstruction of citizenship in Europe


Buy article


Many observers of the massive influx of refugees that has taken place since last summer were taken aback by the enormous size of the migration movements. Thousands of migrants marching northwards along the motorways and demanding the right to cross European borders forced the European border regime to “surrender.” This article argues against conceptualizing these incidents as representing an exception or a “crisis,” and shows that the scale of the migration, its “creativity” and its resistance practices need to be seen as constitutive of migration in general, since migration is a “movement” that resists and subverts the technological and social devices established by a massively militarized border regime on an everyday basis and; hence; questions racialized conceptions of European citizenship. As the article goes on to argue, conceptualizing migration in this way has methodological consequences for our thinking and for our concepts of “border.” However, even most constructivist and practice-oriented approaches in the international field of border studies deny that “migration” has an impact and has to be theorized as a co-constitutive force in the field of border work.

migration, European border regime, citizenship, autonomy of migration