CfP Critical Approaches to Irregular Migration Facilitation: Dismantling the Human Smuggler Narrative

Call for Papers
Critical Approaches to Irregular Migration Facilitation: Dismantling the Human Smuggler Narrative
European University Institute
Florence, Italy
April 5-6, 2016

In contemporary mainstream narratives of migration, the human smuggler has earned a privileged if infamous spot as one of the most widely recognized and despised global predators. Smugglers are often referred to as orchestrators of senseless human tragedies along migration corridors, masterminds behind sexual exploitation rings, or amassers of untold riches made at the expense of asylum seekers, migrants and their families –in turn often narrowly portrayed as infantile and ignorant. Constructed as racialized, hypersexual and greedy males from the global South, facilitators of irregular migration have earned widespread notoriety in narratives of human and national security, particularly in the context of migration control efforts.   Scholarship on the facilitation of irregular migration often draws from the experiences of law enforcement or of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, especially those who have been the target of threats, scams or violence, further obscuring the perspectives of those playing a role in their transits (often migrants and asylum seekers themselves). As a result, our knowledge of irregular migration facilitation is often plagued with fragmented perspectives on the socio-cultural dynamics of the migratory journey, the facilitator-traveler relationship and their community dimensions.

Simultaneously, there is a growing corpus of empirical and critical work on the facilitation or brokerage of irregular migration within migration regimes that deserves to be fostered and strengthened. With that goal in mind we invite abstracts on the theme of irregular migration/ human mobility facilitation for an international workshop to be held on April 5-6, 2016 at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.  We seek critical and empirical engagements on the topic of the facilitation and brokerage of irregular migration as witnessed regionally and comparatively. Aware of the multiple processes involved in the facilitation of irregular migration efforts, facilitation is broadly conceived to include those who may not be explicitly recognized as facilitators/smugglers, but who also develop paths conducive to human mobility that takes place outside of legal/ized and/or state sponsored mechanisms.

Themes to consider include:
1. Representations of human smuggling
2. The social organization of human smuggling/facilitation of irregular migration
3. Gender/ed dimensions within the facilitation of irregular migration
4. Human smuggling and its encounters with other extra-legal, criminalized, illicit markets or activities
5. Ethics of irregular/clandestine migration research
6. Criminalization of irregular migration facilitation and its implications
7. New theoretical approaches to irregular migration/human mobility
8. Historical and community dimensions of human smuggling facilitation
9. Irregular migration economies

Selected contributions will be part of a proposal for the publication of a special issue and/or edited collection on the facilitation of irregular migration/human mobility with an international journal or publishing house. Every effort will be made to select works that allow for breadth across and within regions. We will further aim for collaborative opportunities among participants. Preference will be given to work that draws on ethnographic research.
Please submit a 200-300 word abstract to by November 15th, 2015. Participants will be notified of their acceptance by December 31, 2015. Final papers are due on March 21st, 2016. In the meanwhile, questions can be addressed to the organizers, Luigi Achilli at the European University Institute ( and Gabriella Sanchez at the University of Texas at El Paso (