How might irregular migrants «wait well”?
On 21 January 2021, Kari Anne Drangsland will defend her PhD thesis at the University of Bergen. Her thesis is called “Working to ‘Wait Well’. Exploring the temporalities of irregular migration in Germany."
Drangsland’s thesis is a study of German migration control after 2015. Germany took a leading role in EU’s response to the so-called “refugee crisis” in 2015 and 2016. During these years, Germany processed more than 1.2 million asylum applications, and Merkel’s words “wir schaffen dass” (“we can manage this”) in October 2015 gained an almost iconic status. At the same time, the German government carried through changes in migration policy and regulations that increased the use of temporary residence permits and protection statuses and resulted in longer waits for migrants. This development is the point of departure for Drangsland’s study, which aims at exploring the role of waiting, temporariness, and future imaginaries in migration control and in migrants’ lives.
The thesis is based on 11 months of fieldwork in Hamburg. By following migrants in their everyday lives, Drangsland explores how law and regulations, cultural norms, and power relations structure time in specific ways; for example through deadlines, future imaginaries, and the slicing up of time in specific periods. Furthermore, she studies how such temporal structures shape migrants’ experiences and life projects and processes of inclusion and exclusion.
In her work, Drangsland focuses on irregular migration and investigates how waiting and uncertainty affect the health and wellbeing of irregular migrants, as well as their social relations and their inclusion into the labour market. Drangsland argues that in the context of temporary and conditional residence permits, it becomes important for migrants’ health and wellbeing whether they can “wait well”. The notion of «waiting well» captures an expectation on migrants to navigate uncertainty and temporariness in ways that are deemed productive in economic terms, but also according to gendered and heteronormative life-cycle expectations.
Drangsland explores how people are differently located in relation to the temporal order of «waiting well» along intersecting axes of legal status, gender, race, health, age, and nationality. Furthermore, she argues that law and policy discourses function to bracket the violence of waiting by periodising migrants’ time as a period of waiting, and, furthermore, as a period which is politically and ethically inscribed with meaning from the perspective of the awaited residence permit. Waiting thus might be narratively configured as a “redemptive state”.
The thesis broadens the knowledge about developments in European migration control after 2015 and provides an important basis for further research as the use of temporary and conditional residence permits gain salience in European countries. The thesis also contributes to recent literature on migration, time and waiting by deploying a lens of feminist temporalities that foregrounds how waiting time might be thought in terms of relationality and located embodiment. From this perspective. it becomes evident that people’s “nows” never wait.
About the candidate
Kari Anne K. Drangsland (b. 1980) graduated as a human geographer from the University of Bergen (UiB) in 2007. Previously, Drangsland has worked as a researcher, consultant and planner, and as a university lecturer at the Institute of Human Geography at UiB. Her PhD is part of the research project "Waiting for an uncertain future: the temporalities of irregular migration" at the Centre for Women's and Gender Research at UiB. Her main supervisor for the PhD thesis was Christine M. Jacobsen. Co-supervisors were Håvard Haarstad and Helge Jordheim.
Meeting the candidate after the defense
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How to follow the trial lecture and defense
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The trial lecture starts at presicely 4 pm CET on 20 January, and the defense starts at 1.30 pm CET on 21 January.
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