Governing Global Migration

University dissertation from Statsvetenskapliga institutionen, Lunds universitet

Abstract: This study explores the global regulative function of migration politics. Its main aim is to rethink migration politics through an engagement with the Foucauldian governmentality perspective, which focuses on the relation between government and thought. A secondary aim is to use this perspective to explore the global description of migration and migration politics which is emerging with the currently evolving global governance of migration. Doing so, it wishes to contribute both to the study of global governmentality, i.e. to the orientation of research which applies elements from governmentality in order to understand global processes of rule, and to the study of the global governance of migration. The task is addressed at three different levels of abstraction. First, it elaborates on an understanding of the state system as a governmental regime aiming at regulating the world population, in order to understand the sovereign prerogative to control migration therein. Second, it places the regulation of movement within the historical continuity of governmental concerns with managing circulation. Third, it explores current governmental thought on migration, to this end tracing the political rationality of governing migration from the global description of migration and migration politics. Its findings suggest that when the circulation of migration is addressed as a global concern, it is being conceptualized in a way which both furthers and modifies state system governmentality. Migration is understood as a normal rather than an exceptional feature of world affairs, and societies are recognized as to a significant degree transnational in character. The commonly used term “migration management” suggests the need to take control over movements in this context. It also signals the possibility for finding rational solutions in order to optimize migration, maximizing its potential benefits and minimizing its associated dangers.