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Vulnerable Solidarities: Identity, Spatiality and the Contentious Politics of Migration

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Anna Finiguerra

Concluding Remarks

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1Solidary spaces offer a complex view of the interactions between identities, practices and non-human situational elements in the determination of political outcomes. On the one hand, the construction of solidary identities around a contextual rather than essentialist notion of humanity, or rather around the contextual discovery and rediscovery of such humanity, articulated in terms of neediness and vulnerability, leads to a mindful attempt to honour such a conception of the human in practice. On the other, those very practices, which become a vehicle of horizontality and reciprocity, inform the production of politically active and relevant subjectivities striving for the recognition of mobile people as fully human and fully agentic, where humanity is conflated with the possibility of freely determining one’s life path. Finally, adversarial spatial practices, and thus the role of space constructed through both human and non-human presence, concur to ground and to offset the creation of such alternative identities, political subjectivities and communal practices, determining the degrees of cohesion and horizontality to be found in these solidary spaces.

2Each of these dimensions powerfully rearticulates relations of power in the borderland, substituting exclusion and abandonment with affective ties of belonging, and mobilizing precariousness in search of politically meaningful subjectivities rather than to their disavowal. In this way, solidary spaces resist various forms of state-led responses to migration, rearticulating not only the figuration of the migrant away from abject victimhood and dangerous strangeness, but also that of members of the host society away from neo-colonial, white saviour scripts so common in humanitarian interventions, through the discovery of mutuality and especially of common vulnerability. In this context, care as well as suffering are not unidirectional and unidimensional aspects of the figure of the care-giver and care recipient respectively, but interact constantly, often operating a reversal in their relationship in paradoxical ways.

3The complex relationships and affective ties forged in the borderland, however, do not negate the persistence of mechanisms of power and privilege. The existence of gendered dynamics, even in the absence of the devaluation of care and care work, in the form of a sexual division of emotional labour as well as the affirmation of mechanisms of masculinist protection in the management of (in)security, testify to the ubiquity of power dynamics even in the most embryonic and transient of social formations. Furthermore, the presence of racial conflicts and discrimination inside these spaces shows how, regardless of the emancipatory potential of these spaces, they nevertheless are only partially capable of putting forward alternative visions and worlds, having to grapple constantly with the processes pervading their outside, against which they are defined and in which they are intimately entangled, giving rise to ambiguities between power and violence and their alternatives.

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