Violent Inaction: The Necropolitical Experience of Refugees in Europe

Thom Davies, Arshad Isakjee, Surindar Dhesi

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96 Citations (Scopus)
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A significant outcome of the global crisis for refugees has been the abandonment of forced migrants to live in makeshift camps inside the EU. This paper details how state authorities have prevented refugees from surviving with formal provision, leading directly to thousands having to live in hazardous spaces such as the informal camp in Calais, the site of this study. We then explore the violent consequences of this abandonment. By bringing together thus far poorly integrated literatures on bio/necropolitics (Michel Foucault; Achille Mbembe) and structural violence (Johan Galtung), we retheorize the connections between deliberate political indifference towards refugees and the physiological violence they suffer. In framing the management of refugees as a series of violent inactions, we demonstrate how the biopolitics of migrant control has given way to necropolitical brutality. Advancing geographies of violence and migration, the paper argues that political inaction, as well as action, can be used as a means of control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1263-1284
Issue number5
Early online date21 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • necropolitics
  • violence
  • migration
  • Calais
  • camps
  • abandonment


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