Willem Schinkel

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.

Willem Schinkel is professor of social theory at the Department of Public Administration & Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam. His main areas of research are social theory and social philosophy, the sociology of art and STS.

Selected publications:

Schinkel, Willem (2019): “Migration studies: an imposition.” In: Comparative Migration Studies
7 (32): doi.org/10.1186/s40878-019-0136-4

de Vries, Patricia/Willem Schinkel (2019): Algorithmic anxiety: Masks and camouflage in artistic imaginaries of facial recognition algorithms.” In: Big Data & Society January–June 2019, 1–12.

Boersma, Sanne/Willem Schinkel (2018): “Imaginaries of postponed arrival: on seeing ‘society’ and its ‘immigrants’.”In:  Cultural Studies, 32:2, 308–325.

Schinkel, Willem (2017): Imagined Societies: A Critique of Immigrant Integration in Western Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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.

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