Accounting for Migration
What we seek to propose in this workshop is that 'migration' is not the mobility of people, but a form of accounting. And this accounting is not merely a form of registering and narrating, it is also accounting in the economic sense of the term: counting is a form of national accounting. It is to manage outstanding debts and credits. In this economy of migration, a migrant appears as someone equated to a form of debt, and migrants are tasked with repaying this unpayable debt. In order for this accounting to work, migration needs to be enacted as an abstract phenomenon consisting of net flows. That is a very recent achievement that we trace to the work of Ernst Ravenstein. We thus argue that migration must be uncoupled from mobility, and that it is an anachronism to speak of ›migration‹ prior to the technical achievement of registering net flows.
Rogier van Reekum is assistant professor of social theory at the Department of Public Administration & Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam. His main areas of research are border visuality, nationalism, place making, citizenship and migration politics, immigration policy and education.
Essanhaji, Zaki/Rogier van Reekum (2022): “Following diversity through the university: On knowing and embodying a problem.” In: The Sociological Review 70 (5), 882–900.
Reekum, Rogier van (2019): “Patrols, records and pictures: Demonstrations of Europe in the midst of migration’s crisis.” In: Environment and Planning D: Society and Space (37) 4, 625–643.
Reekum, Rogier van (2017): “Drawing lines, enacting migration: Visual prostheses of bordering Europe.” In: Public Culture 29 (1), 27–51.
Dijstelbloem, Huub/Rogier van Reekum/Willem Schinkel (2017): “Surveillance at sea: The transactional politics of border control in the Aegean.” In: Security Dialogue 48 (3), 224–240.
Reekum, Rogier van (2016): “The Mediterranean: Migration corridor, border spectacle, ethical landscape.” In: Mediterranean Politics 21 (2), 336–341.