Temporary and irregular migrants as unlucky in the ‘lucky country’. From a successful country of immigration to the politics of disappearance.

Stream: Panel 62 - Human Rights & Democracy: Human Rights & Democracy Panel 2: The State of Human Rights Challenges in Australia
Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Time: 9.00 am – 10.30 am


This paper considers the Australian response to new global migration flows with a focus on temporary and irregular migrants. The effects of temporary status and invisibility in both their social and legal manifestations will be explored with the off-shore detention of asylum seekers being one such case that will be developed. The paper seeks to problematize the way in which the official categorisation of migrants into administrative and legal domains constructs a normative hierarchy of stranger and outsider and of deserving and undeserving migrants with evident impacts on the human experiences of justice and human rights. As human migrations have changed in fundamental ways over the past decades from largely one-way migration and permanent settlement to circular migration and temporariness, issues of visibility, access and remedies available for temporary and irregular migrants escalated in scale and complexity. Permanent settlement and stasis remain the dominant tropes that undergird the nation-state as a political entity and as a system of belonging and identity despite the lived reality of temporariness. In the Australian context, political narratives of deserving and undeserving migrants, of asylum seekers as disturbing the ordered migration system, are utilised by the state in the creation of narratives of fear of outsiders and the related protection and security of the nation and citizens. This paper argues that articulations of a just society and human rights as practices are weakened through such official narratives of fear, insecurity and rejection directed at irregular migrants.


Claudia Tazreiter (Presenter), UNSW
Claudia Tazreiter is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of New South Wales, Australia. Her research focuses on forced and irregular migration, human rights, the role of non-governmental organizations and civil society in social change as well as gender in migration. She is author of Fluid Security in the Asia Pacific: Transnational Lives and State Control, with Sharon Pickering, Leanne Weber, Marie Segrave and Helen McKernan (Palgrave MacMillan 2016) and Asylum Seekers and the State: The Politics of Protection in a Security-Conscious World (Ashgate 2004, 2006).