Monthly Archives: August 2010

Nandita Dogra – postdoctoral researcher in CCS

The ‘Kingdom’ Strikes Twice- Double Whammy on Post-study Skilled Immigrants.

by Nandita Dogra

The Government of the United Kingdom expects a set of its immigrants already within UK to perform a special miracle – time travel. It has asked its skilled Post-study Work (PSW) visa-holders to go back in time and conjure up additional earnings for the preceding/current annual period in order to retrospectively fulfil two revisions in the conditions for Highly-Skilled Migration Programme (HSMP) brought in on 6 April 2010 and then again on 19 July 2010.

I am compelled to write this piece as I realise how uninformed people, especially my fellow ‘progressive’ middle classes who are forever claiming to be ‘pro-immigration’, ‘fairness’ and ‘human rights’ and usually focusing on the truly ‘needy’ amongst the immigrants, are about immigration. The immediate purpose is to highlight two recent instances of arbitrariness and sheer stealth and lawlessness- skilled PSWs already in the UK are being effectively and retrospectively capped out by not one but two sets of detrimental changes introduced within less than four months by both Labour and Conservative-LibDem governments, a fact which has found little space in the media. It is hoped that this piece would also be read in the legal and political circles who will act upon it to revoke these revisions thrust upon PSWs.

The moot question and one that is easily missed is- who are the immigrants? While the total number of migrants remains confusing with different figures being thrown up to prove any and every point, the statistics further blur the distinctions amongst immigrants to abet the war cries against immigrants. Media discourses and public opinion too tend to lump immigrants into broad, usually two, boxes of ‘white’ (Euro-American-Australian) and ‘non-white’ (‘Third World’).  The former do not really matter (read as we cannot see them as separate we do not want to know how, their usually opportunistic, comings and goings affect our economy- it must be a good thing, no question of asking them to prove their loyalty to ‘British’ values and nation- they are one of ‘us’). The whole debate on immigration is about the latter and the conflation of the myriad categories of these immigrants, defined both by the government and actually existing on the ground, results in generalisations, hysteria, mismanagement, perverse policies which often even harm Britain and her interests and, of course, untold problems for the immigrants.

The shrill voices against the ‘spongers’ of Britain and her welfare systems- asylum-seekers, family members of often working class first or second generation immigrant British citizens who tend to be ‘over-reproductive’ and add to the already-full nation- are the staple of many debates and  I do not want to add to the noise pollution. But what about that segment of ‘non-whites’ whom Britain, in its official rhetoric and policies, needs and actively seeks usually competing with other ‘developed’ nations who also claim to want them in their own countries? These are the skilled categories both in education and employment. It is time to highlight some key issues about them and the Points-based System (PBS) they fall under. I will not provide complete details of this system not only because anyone really interested can easily access them through the relevant government websites but because they are a virtual minefield of ever-changing legalese and government-speak that only the brave (or the stuck immigrants) can wade through. I will merely highlight the main rules under this system, especially of the Highly-skilled Migration Programme (HSMP) and some individual stories of the lost children of this system to make the readers aware of what exactly the system allows and expects and to judge for themselves the policies of governments and underlying ideologies they reflect.

Regarding students, the only point worth highlighting is that every international student pays tuition fee that is approximately four times of what is paid by a British citizen. There are some exceptions depending on the college and degree with some Masters and MBA degrees, particularly in the high-ranked institutions, charging the same fees from both sets of students. Except for those who get scholarships and other help, there is no subsidy for international students. Foreign students are, hence, a huge, often the major, source of income for many educational institutions. Those who complain about annual tuition fees of £3000 should take a moment to reflect on the struggles of those who have to meet such quadrupled sums. And before we begin arguing about rich ‘Arab’ and ‘American’ students, it should be stressed that international students are far from homogenous and come from different nations and financial backgrounds. What is clear is that the higher education fees structure implicitly weeds out any ‘sponging’ by, first, checking the financial credentials of potential students and then making the students do whatever it takes- beg, borrow, earn- to meet their education costs. Foreign students also have no “recourse to public funds” i.e. any help from the government and the study period does not count towards rights of stay in the UK even if this period lasts 5 years or more, for example, for a doctorate. Yes there are many dodgy educational institutions with fake students that the government is not aware of/aware but doing nothing about/indirectly encouraging the establishment and perpetuation of linked to its own policies and structures, and these should be curbed but foreign students in established UK institutions subsidise the country, not the other way around.

On completion of higher education, an international student can stay on in the UK for a limited period, again without any rights to public funds or resident-ship under the ‘Post-study Work Visa’ (PSW). This rule was brought in only a few years back after comparative reviews with other nations, especially the USA, Australia and New Zealand, to discourage students from preferring these countries. Initially, it was open only to postgraduates and the period allowed was a year which was later increased to a maximum of 2 years. Anyone applying for PSW must fulfill specific criteria of education, financial backup and savings to take care of self and family and of course English language. PSW is strictly a transition period during which one has to unequivocally prove one’s ‘fitness’ to stay on in the UK. It is the time allowed to get sponsored by an employer or meet the difficult conditions of HSMP that is the visa one ‘graduates’ to. HSMP is a scheme to sift the highly skilled from the non-skilled and there is no arguing that it does require laying down certain criteria. The trouble is that instead of fixing these criteria for a reasonable period the government repeatedly keeps manipulating the sub criteria for attributes and changing both the minimum level and weightage of each criterion. In other words, ‘high skills’ keep getting redefined at a frenetic pace as per the immediate politics and then dumped on to the immigrants. This makes the same person suddenly ineligible after already having started his/her period under the visa.

Over the last few years the fitness tests namely the criteria for HSMP have been made more and more stringent with the rules being changed almost each year and even during the course of a current valid visa. The changes include increase in both the overall period of HSMP from 4 to 5 years as well as hikes in income required resulting in litigations as many have lost their visas despite fulfilling the conditions for a significant part of the required period. These changes have been brought in quietly by later Labour government as a part of its tough on immigration policy, a fact neither the party concerned nor the new government would care to call attention to now.

In June this year the new government declared an immigration ‘cap’ with immediate effect and stricter conditions for HSMP. The general impression is that this cap and revised conditions would not affect the highly skilled who are already here but this is incorrect. Further, what very few realise is that HSMP conditions had already been made extremely stringent less than three months back in April by the outgoing Labour government and applied retrospectively to PSWs. The new government, totally ignoring the recent revisions, has brought in a second revision which means that two detrimental changes have been brought in by UK during the same year within less than 4 months, flagrantly changing the conditions of those who are already here.

Revised position for existing PSW visa holders on 6 April 2010 (Labour Government)

To pass the points-based assessment and be accepted into the highly skilled worker category, you must score a total of 95 points- a) 75 points for your attributes (age, qualifications, previous earnings, and experience in the United Kingdom), b) 10 points for English language; and, c) 10 points for available maintenance (funds). On 6 April 2010 the criteria for attributes were changed across the subcategories of age, qualifications, previous earnings and experience. As it is the subtotal of these points that makes one qualify or disqualify any reduction in the points of one implies that one must increase the points for another which is usually impossible during the given period. Each extra earnings range of £5-10,000 per year (depending on one’s age and other factors) qualifies for 5 or 10 points. In April the minimum income for all was increased and applied also to the PSWs already in the UK.

Illustration- X is a 32 year old post-graduate from a UK university on a PSW visa. For her age, qualifications and UK experience she gets a total of 50 points (10-Age, 5- UK experience, 35 -MA). Soon after she began her PSW last year, she got a job with £38,000 per annum salary (which equals 40 points then), no mean achievement if we see average earnings in the UK and more so during these recessionary times. As she needs to show documentary proof of at least 12 months’ continuous work and income, she can apply for the HSMP only after the new rules have been brought in, according to which, her current salary, which was way above the qualifying limit when she started PSW, is no longer enough. So she can either accept her sudden, totally unjustified, disqualification and write off the massive tuition fees, taxes and visa fees paid and leave UK or she must somehow ‘manage’ an extra income of £2000 for the same annual period and show an income of £40,000 that would get her 5 extra points and enable her to qualify for the revised HSMP and satisfy the authorities. Numerous other examples can be worked out. In April the Labour Government also reduced the points given for a PhD leading to similar problems for those affected in addition to the general hike in income requirements.

Re-revised position for existing visa holders on 19 July 2010 (Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Government)

The qualifying points for income, age and qualifications have been raised from 75 to 80 (total from 95 to 100). The coalition government’s move fails to consider that tightening had already been done by the previous government which officially kept the points at 75 but raised the conditions to attain these points. The net effect of each is real and the two consecutive changes have piled up to adversely affect the PSWs twice.

Illustration-

X, whose example was given earlier, is now required to gain 30 points, instead of 25 as she was expected to do on/after 6 April 2010, from her current/preceding annual earnings. This means a salary of £50,000- X has to conjure up an extra £10,000 per annum, in addition to the extra £2000 required of her in April (she could do this prospectively if she still has 12 more months of a valid PSW visa left and can find a job that pays her £50,000 per annum during these recessionary times- clearly a near impossible task. And who knows how many revisions will come into force during the next 12 months?).

The 3 different minimum qualifying annual  income levels that X has to maintain, depending on the date on which she submits her HSMP application, are given below to highlight the illegality, unfairness and sheer absurdity of the changed rules -

March 2010- £26000 (=25 points)

April 2010- £40,000 (=25 points)

July 2010- £50,000 (=30 points)

Within 4 months, to attain 25-30 points for earnings one has to earn nearly double the income till March 2010 (£26,000) – the qualifying income has been hiked first by 14,000 in April and then by another 10,000 in July, a total of £24,000.

The earnings range for qualifying points are also totally arbitrary with 5-10 points for each £5000 till the income limit of £39,999, then suddenly these are hiked by £10,000 for 5 points for the income range £40,000 to £49,999, and reduced once again to £5000 in the range £50-54999. This means that a substantial number of migrants falling in the approximate range of £30-50,000 income per annum will be greatly affected. Is it the case that the government already knows that this is the range most of PSWs are likely to fall under and hence a very secure source of extra taxes or the opportunity to force them to leave?

It seems clear that the real motivation of all successive UK governments, irrespective of the party politics, is extracting more money. Each extra requirement of £10,000 income means approximately £2-4,000 additional tax income per annum. Since April 2010 the consecutive governments have already ensured that this is achieved not just once but twice doubling the gain to the UK exchequer without any regard for law or fairness. And those who are unable to miraculously muster these extra incomes to meet the ever-changing and highly unrealistic and demanding conditions can be told to go back as UK has already pocketed the tuition fees at international rates, cheap labour and taxes they have contributed over the previous years. To many it is clearly a continuation of colonialism and never-ending colonial greed, albeit in a carefully hidden form. Scholars would also identify its stealthy operationalisation as an essential part of ‘Britishness’.

Skilled immigrants are a highly diverse lot with skills and knowledge in a range of subjects and fields. The image of a high flier banker who can perhaps stay immune to the vagaries of immigration rules does  not do justice to the, much neglected, HSMP immigrant, an immigrant who is neither entitled to nor ever uses public funds and instead provides the much-needed skills and high taxes to fund UK’s ‘overstretched’ infrastructure. These seemingly ‘bookkeeping’ changes are unjustly affecting many for whom the world could have been their oyster had they foreseen the volatile politics of immigration in Britain. And these rules and their constant ‘strengthening’ reveal not just the use of immigrants as pawns in party and racial politics but deeper claims of fairness the country claims globally. If UK cannot appreciate highly skilled people it has sought from across the globe, it can at least stop being hypocritical and luring them here under false pretext. No country has the right to pretend to invite skilled people, extract their skills and money, and then turn around to say it has changed its mind. It cannot be anyone’s prerogative, least of all of a nation that has gained immeasurably from the largest empire in recent history. Many words starting with the letter ‘c’ come to mind- cap, crafty, colonial.

Ben Rosenzweig Theory of the Offensive blog

International student struggles, or, Causes of the mediated processes of reproduction

Reposted From Theory of the Offensive, by Ben Ross

Anecdotal introduction
A few months ago I was looking for a share-house room in Melbourne, where rents have gone up a lot in the last couple of years. I kept coming across people advertising places who would explain, sometimes with a little laugh, that they were planning on getting an international student in if possible, given the size of the rooms (microscopic, phone booths, walk-in closets, disused bathrooms) and the rent (not microscopic by any means). Most of those I spoke to were not multi-property slum-landlord-types; they were people renting or buying houses, ‘ordinary’ share-house people, even (Australian) other students, who now saw an opportunity to make a chunk of cash.

In very real if broad senses, those in Melbourne on international student visas face not merely employers as exploiters: they face almost the entire array of social relations in Melbourne as a predatory world re-made as a Hobbesian market just for them – the social sweatshop, the war of all against them.

New social objects
…reconstituting areas of accumulation…
The development of these international education economies should be understood as a moment of a restructuring of relations of exploitation, of the social relations of capitalism, for which ‘neoliberalism’ and ‘globalisation’ are common if inadequate terms – the emergence of new forms of subsumption of labour under capital on a planetary basis. In particular, this restructuring has disturbed and attenuated the division of the global cycle of capital into national areas of accumulation, and reconstituted the form and imperatives of states within the expansion of capital and reproduction of capitalism. (If a distinction between centre and periphery persists, it has quite different dynamics; likewise, as I’m hardly the first to argue, experiences of class and of ‘proletarian identity’.)

So far, so banal.

International education economies are the biggest source of export income in Victoria, by a substantial margin. Within Australia, international education economies developed through a number of stages. After being given the ability to charge enormous fees to international students, and as part of a much broader neoliberalising reconstitution of the social relations defining institutions, universities started to become what might be thought of as properly capitalist institutions, selling education and training and the credentials supposed to attest to same, in the sense outlined by Marx in the ‘excluded chapter’ of Das Kapital:

A schoolmaster who educates others is not a productive worker. But a schoolmaster who is engaged as a wage labourer in an institution along with others, in order through his labour to valorise the money of the entrepreneur of the knowledge-mongering institution, is a productive worker.

Even if the institution is “public” (I would argue). At the time Marx noted that such ‘services’, “from the formal point of view, are hardly subsumed formally under capital”, but were instead “transitional forms”, though “capable of being exploited directlyin the capitalist way” (his emphasis). Because this was not really happening at the time – formal or real subsumption – he advised that such activities be treated as “wage labour which is not at the same time productive labour”. Obviously the institutions, the economies and the activitites have gone through many shifts since Marx was writing, very real subsumption.

Marketplace, commodity exchange, wage labor. As the social relations of institutions were reorganised as competitive markets centred on imperatives of income generation, the generation of profit from international markets ran far ahead of the capacity of most institutions to generate income from (the formation of) ‘domestic markets’, from profits from the development of intellectual property, or by contracting out academic research work. A generation of profit made possible by systems of border control – by forms of violent exclusion which make possible new commodifications of mobility and of real and potential access to conditions of social reproduction (at least nominally) available to (some) of those judged to be within the borders of Australian territory and citizenship.

Thus these shifts included the developing ability to sell much more than these limited commodities of knowledge and accreditation, and the development of a massive private sector (colleges and the like founded solely on international students). And as part of these, a shift in who came, and how they got here. And more recently, shifts in the ways in which these economies bleed into surrounding social relations and institutions, the ways in which states and others seek to mediate the reproduction of such economies on a number of levels.

The integration of the Australian state into global political economy is now increasingly organised around integration into precisely these economies, a niche in world markets which re-makes and covertly commodifies the border and citizenship amongst many other things, as a certification point, a transit point, a control point, sometimes a destination, helping to define the movements of people in ever-changing but hardly arbitrary directions.

We know that the emerging socio-economic systems reach into the most ‘private’ of social relations, for example re-creating systems of dowry in India, and making up new flows of people and labour, finance and debt.

And also recreating the activity of police in Victoria, for example, as defenders of the large, fragile profits of the industry.

Social power
Many of the same people who seemed able to wipe out a chunk of ‘our’ international education economies with a few protests in the middle of last year had already taken public collective action. The same people (male Indian students) in the same place (Melbourne streets) about the same thing (violence). Despite being relatively large, wildcat, ‘militant’, disruptive – a very very public spectacle of angry brown men, some with shirts off, occupying a major city street for hours – the earlier actions seemed to have consequences much much smaller than subsequent events (unless understood as a causal precursor to the late events), more-or-less disappearing from “public” view with the cessation of collective disruptive action.

And yet the only substantial difference was in how the event was framed: taxi drivers the first time, international students the second.

The reason was not difficult to spot: the second round of ‘international student’ actions were experienced as a much more direct threat to recruitment to Australia’s largest non-mining “export” industry.

Interestingly, in India a parallel view of media coverage was put forward by a Left party:

Remember that not long ago, taxi drivers of Indian and Pakistini origin had protested in Melbourne against police indifference to a series of attacks on them. That story had not been highlighted much by the corporate Indian media because it made less interest copy for elite India than the attacks on “people like us”.

What are these people? I’m suggesting, now, that it is absurdly procrustean to try to reduce the social positioning of those who took action, or international students, or sub-sections of thereof, to being simply ethnically Indian (Chinese, Nepalese, whatever), or being students, or being generic workers (even ‘migrant workers’).

And not because it is always reductive to force complex individuals into simple categories – I don’t care about that at all.

Rather, all of these ascriptions are inadequate because they arewrong, because they fail to engage with the realities of those under discussions, with the social relations in which they really operate and thus with what they really are. Obviously they may work, study, come from India/China/Nepal.

I’m saying that these are guest consumers in new transnational economies which reach into and redefine Australian territory, border, citizenship, economy and social reproduction – moments of a restructuring of exploitation which reconstitutes the historical experience of work and of (what Theorie Communiste refer to as) ‘proletarian identity’. The imperatives which generated these programs were not to find people who can be made to work, not to generate a pool of hyperexploitable labor, but rather people who can be made to pay. Of course, with the expansion of such economies, these guest consumers now form the basis of multiple economies – producing people defined not as essences or members of some occupational or cultural group, but as conflictually-constituted moments in an ensemble of social relations, an entire social terrain negotiated from a quite different position, if not experienced as external imposition. Legal and immigration status, education, housing, transport, work, healthcare – markets, institutions and conditions collectively making up new and sometimes distinctly separate spaces. Work is the form of economic survival and point of exploitation, but not necessarily, and for quite material reasons, a privileged locus of identity.

A new exclusion is possible
What we might only partially inaccurately refer to as ‘international education economies’ are made up of overlapping, competing and conflicting imperatives and interests – interests of institutions (most obviously universities, private colleges, recruitment agencies) and states (most obviously Australian federal and state governments, Indian and Chinese governments). For a while any conflicts seemed to be attenuated, even swamped, by joy derived from the expansion of capital, but in recent times conflicts have emerged. Resistance led to recruitment problems led to a re-assertion of state management and planning – uneven, ad hoc and sometimes tentative but across the social terrain of these political economies.

If state governments experience these economies primarily as sources of revenue, the federal government occupies a slightly different position, with additional imperatives. As I write the federal government is acting to remake these educational economies, slicing out many of the least wealthy international students and sacrificing some proportion of the private colleges. To some extent it publicly appears as a re-assertion of federal labor market management in immigration policy and border regulation, informing and covering an effort at reconstitution of guest consumer economies alongside (for example) Victorian government efforts to diversify and re-make sources of guest consumers in attempts to ameliorate the fragility of these economies (and undermine the mediated socio-economic power of guest consumers).

The new urgency for expansion, and into new markets, is both an attempt to “replace” those who will no longer choose to come to Australia ie a response to declining recruitment from some places following the protests and publicity surrounding violence against international students and college closures, and a form of risk management.

Many of the problems of the industry are at least implicitly attributed to consequences of one fact: many of the students coming here are not, to put it in a nutshell, rich. Quite the opposite. By developing “new markets” centred on recruitment of elites from a variety of countries, governments can begin a process of regulation and exclusion, over time, without wiping out the guest consumer-based economies.

Thus, the federal government is trying to shift, at least at the edges, the basis of international education economies by changing the content of the commodities (which can be) sold, in order to manage problems experienced by states and capital – problems of the fragility of accumulation and expansion manifest primarily in the struggles of the guest consumers themselves.

But the reconstitution of these commodities is also the redefinition of legitimacy, a redistribution of exclusion and criminalization, and of formal or de facto expulsion – not to mention the creation of a new pattern of massive debt in parts of India and elsewhere, as some guest consumers, now dispensed with, face having virtually destroyed the economic basis of family reproduction for decades to come as payment, on credit, for effectively worthless ‘education’.

Multicultural patriotism
Meanwhile, Victorian police are threatening and intimidating Indians with a view to silencing potential complaints about racially-motivated attacks. Students calling up are threatened with deportation if they give false information by ‘disbelieving’ police. Taxi drivers repeatedly attacked by groups of people are told to shut up, that they can be charged with offences too, that they should just let things go or else. While it is difficult to ascertain exactly why or how frequently this is occurring, and whether this is a quiet directive from on high or the initiative of police not wanting to be held responsible for the loss of millions of ‘export dollars’, or just bigotry, the result is the same: police working hard to minimise problems (for the industry, for government).
The Indian groceries which grew with student numbers are finding it more and more difficult to survive as the Indian students no longer leave their homes at night, and thus no longer shop – at its worst, almost experiencing their lives as a state of siege.

Though they make up less than half of the ‘international students’ in Australia, by the new-found prominence of their protests, victimhood, and subsequent social visibility, male Indian students have become a kind of distorting metonym of those in Australia on student visas in general.

The central axis of this violence is that of citizen against non-citizen, even if in reality this manifests as that of particular (groups of) citizens against particular (groups of) non-citizens. Some have sought to find in any acts of ‘anti-student’ violence committed by non-whites, by non-Anglos, a refutation of any accusation of ‘racism’ against ‘mainstream Australians’ (understood as whites), if not proof of the ‘racism’ of specifically non-white Australians and hence an indication of the ‘failure of multiculturalism’. As if hatred of international students is an ancient hatred imported into this country by migrants – a stubborn persistence of that hatred of Indians so prominent in, say, Somalia.

In reality such violence does exist in relation to the ‘success’ of ‘multiculturalism’ as a state-sponsored project of management and nation-building. People from ‘diverse’ backgrounds can articulate xenophobia in the terms of multicultural patriotism, of the divisions of citizen and non-citizen within which official ‘anti-racism’ is constituted. Black, brown or white, we are all Australians – except for those who aren’t. In this case, the guest consumers.

The resulting fear is directly related to defeat: as consequences of guest consumer struggle turn out to be more harassment and violence and then mass expulsion at the bottom end of the socio-economic scale, the obvious collective actions dissipated, leaving a space of representation which could be seized, by FISA and others, and converted into political capital, and a claim to NGO funding and/or multicultural corporatist ‘inclusion’.

Final remarks
In a very real way the most recent shifts in the role of states in these economies are responses to the resistance of guest consumers. Moreover, in a very real way these shifts have effectively undermined, if not defeated, the movements of guest consumers as they have appeared over the last couple of years.

Resistance has been defeated, at least temporarily, by a combination of increased violence and enhanced fear, and the threat and reality of a wave of expulsions – expulsion, primarily of the least wealthy (literally negative wealth, often), enacted through visa changes of the sort pushed by the CFMEU and regulation and enforcement of the sort pushed by the National Union of Students.

The national regulation of labor and labor-market formation – almost all the ALP has retained from laborist social democracy – has always been compatible (to put it mildly) with xenophobia, and with the overt reduction of ‘foreigners’ to economic utility.

I would suggest that it is not desirable to analyse these developments from narrow perspectives, of the sad loss of the fantasy-university or the need to resuscitate social democracy, for example, which in any case tend to be overtly or not based upon demands for new border policing and exclusion.

Rather these developments should be seen as moments of restructuring, restructuring-as-class-struggle, with conflict defining points of the global flows of capitalist reproduction and accumulation. To understand the restructuring of which our struggles are a part – that would be a worthy goal.

POSTED BY THEORYOFTHEOFFENSIVE ON 03.06.10 @ 5:36 AM |

Enis Oktay – CCS PhD Candidate…

From Oncology to Pediatrics: The Infectious Border Economy and the Corporate Border Experience

by Enis Oktay

During the Border Infection event held at Goldsmiths on 22-24 March 2010,  we saw how the border, especially national borders were utilized as instruments of control, as a means of keeping the “infection” – be it people, ideas or cultural values out.  We also saw that the control aspect has another side: the border is not only there for keeping people out, it is also there for deterring the ones who have managed to get in. The constant threat of not renewing visas or work permits and the threat of deportation are used to deter both legal and illegal migrants from engaging in what are regarded as criminal actions or undesirable political activities. For example, in February 2010 there were a series of news articles in die Tageszeitung (a German left-wing daily) about legal migrants in Germany who had become eligible for becoming citizens but whose applications were turned down because of their political engagements and affiliations. In 2002, the German government created an agency for the protection of the constitution (Verfassungsschutz) in the spirit of the post 9/11 environment. Since then, people who apply for German citizenship are being co-examined by this agency and more than 30 applications have been rejected in the last three years on the grounds that the applicants have had undesirable political associations. One of the articles titled “Too Leftist to be German” (Zu links, um deutsch zu sein) was concerning a lady whose parents were British and Italian, so she already had dual EU citizenship. She had grown up in Germany and had spent her adult life there. She was also married to a German citizen. What was peculiar about her case was that her citizenship application was rejected because she was an active member of die Linke (the Leftist Alliance) which actually is one of the elected parties in the federal parliament! Here’s the link to the original article (in German): http://www.taz.de/1/leben/koepfe/artikel/1/zu-links-um-deutsch-zu-sein/

So to repeat, we have already seen two functions of the border: to deliberately keep certain people out, and to deter the ones who have made their way in. But there is another aspect of the border, an aspect of profit and revenue, an economy or industry of the border if you will. What I mean by this is on the one hand unidirectional capital flows from the Third World to the First World in the shape of visa or immigration fees, compulsory travel and/or health insurance policies bought from First World/multinational insurance companies, mandatory return tickets (in cases where the “common carriers” used are based in the First World), and in some cases obligatory bank transfers. For example, the new UK points based immigration policy doesn’t require prospective migrants to open up bank accounts in British banks (either within the UK or their international branches) but certain amounts of money have to be in the applicant’s bank account 28 work days prior to visa application and if the applicant is granted access to the UK she brings the money in one way or another anyway as she spends it there. According to Germany’s immigration policy on the other hand, student applicants are required to open up special accounts in German banks which are then partially blocked so that the student can’t transfer or withdraw the money all at once but is allowed to take out around €600 per month which is the designated monthly amount for subsistence.  Therefore, he/she has to make a down payment of at least one year’s worth of income which equals to 600 x12 = €7,200.  In addition to the macroeconomics of the border there also exist microeconomic responses, hierarchies, and absurdities these (supra)national borders and their regulation via visas engender at the everyday and local (Third World) level in the shape of clientelistic networks that operate materially and immaterially within an informal economy.

Before exploring this micro level, let us go back to the macro level and try to assess the annual revenue some of the “developed” nation-states make from the border economy.  It’s hard to estimate the magnitude of this revenue as such figures are not being made public by governments. Or at least, I couldn’t find them on the internet. Perhaps official reports are being filled and presented to various bureaucratic committees but I wasn’t able to locate them. Nevertheless, here are some figures I was able to find which may shed some light on the mystery: According to the European Commission, Schengen States issued 13 million visas in 2007 (http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/fsj/freetravel/visa/fsj_freetravel_visa_en.htm). The standard visa application fee was €60 (although this amount varies from country to country as well as according to the type of visa being issued) which makes the total annual revenue of €780 million. But this is much lower than the actual number as it doesn’t include rejected applications (the visa fees are non-refundable so rejection doesn’t mean reimbursement) as well as other capital flows such as mandatory insurance and transportation fees, and wire transfers. In 2009, Ukraine has spent €60 million on Schengen visas while Turkey has spent €450 million. What is striking about the Schengen visa is that contrary to the US’ or the UK’s practice of issuing long-term (2, 5, or 10 years), multiple entry visas (at least to upper class applicants), the Schengen countries tend to issue only single entry and short term visas (the cut-off point is usually the date of the return journey, hence the mandatory return ticket). This practice of making people pay every time they wish to travel to the EU increases the visa revenue significantly. [1] Currently, there are approximately 120 countries – mainly located in Asia, Africa, South America and Oceania – the citizens of which need visas to access the Schengen area, that is, to be able to spend even one legal minute in Fortress Europe. As common visa requirements for airport transit were introduced by the European Union on 5 April 2010, there exist 12 black sheep among these 120 countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka) the citizens of which are considered potentially harmful so they need visas even to be able to just pass through the Schengen zone.

The citizens of 40 nation-states on the other hand – mainly the non-European members of the G7 (USA, Canada, Japan), tiny European city-states such as Vatican, Monaco or San Marino, rich and industrialized non-European states such as Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong (only holders of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passports) and Israel, as well as the greater economies of central and south America – [2] do not require a visa to enter the Schengen zone and are allowed to stay for the duration of 90 days. Once the official “short term stay” period of 90 days are up, such nationals may re-enter and stay for another three months visa-free as many times as they please provided that they leave the Schengen area physically and come back (this may take place within the same day). Hence, regular travels (every 3 months) back home or to the closest non-Schengen border (for example from France to the UK) enables the privileged owners of such passports to have a full-time and indefinite (yet quarterly interrupted) residence in Europe.[3]

Going back to figures, the UK which has significantly higher immigration fees than the Schengen states has received 2.7 million visa applications in 2006.  If we assume all of those applications were for short term visas (UK’s lowest visa fee: £68), this translates itself into £183.6 million of annual revenue. If, on the other hand, we assume all of those applications were for long term stays (10 years, which requires the highest visa processing fee of £610), then the annual visa revenue becomes £1 billion 647 million. Probably, the actual figure in 2006 was closer to one billion pounds. Recently, UK immigration fees were further increased so that the price of bringing in elderly parents was almost doubled to become £1,900 and a separate 10% charge for each child was introduced. Moreover, the super-rich such as international bankers and professional football players were offered a £15,000 premium visa renewal service which reverses the traditional visa application process as it entails visa officers making appointments and visiting the applicants at their homes or offices. According to The Guardian, Phil Woolas, the Labour government’s immigration minister at the time, justified the sharp increase in immigration and nationality fees which were introduced in April 2010, saying” it was only fair that those who benefited from using the immigration system should help fund it” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/20/visas-immigration-fees-increase). The advocates of curtailing people’s freedom of movement have been consistently presenting the maintenance of international borders as either serving the purpose of security management (especially after Sep. 11) or of stabilizing the economy so that unemployment stays low and resources can be distributed among a lower number of deserving citizens, i.e. the domestic populace lucky enough to have been born inside the First World borders. Nevertheless, even when right wing policy makers explicitly confess the benefits of maintaining borders for admitting capital and desirable migrants, and for filtering out others, they seldom talk of borders in terms of revenue and profit – as mentioned above even the statistics about how much the First World states annually earn from visa applications are not easy to find if they are made public at all. What is striking about Woolas’ remark, on the other hand, is that it shows a shift of paradigm from emphasis on insulation and deterrence to an emphasis on customer service and mutual benefit, and points towards the discourse of a new privatization and commercialization of the border. This new approach to the border as commercial mechanism is manifest in the new UK visa application system that is part of the transformation the creation of the UK Border Agency has brought about – more on this below.

What is crucial about the macroeconomics of the border industry is that as the First World is presented as some sort of land of promises, the whole system depends on the trick that the visa presents itself as a right – a right to enter and remain for a limited amount of time – rather than what it really is: a privilege that is bought and sold. And given the economic nature of this privilege, which of those who have arrived from the Third World will be granted access to the Promised Land that is the First World is decided by and large according to capital and class.  For example, the new UK points based immigration system dictates that if an overseas student who has no prior UK residence wants to come and study in London, either she or her legal guardians must have approximately £20,000 in their bank account 28 work days prior to the date of application. If the prospective student already has lived in the UK before (i.e. is financially reliable, hence is required to prove only two months’ worth of already existing subsistence funds instead of nine months’) and is going to study outside of London (which means a lower rate of monthly subsistence), she still needs to have £12,000 in her bank account 28 work days prior to her application. If not, the dream of studying in the UK is not a realizable one. Here it is important to remind the reader that according to both IMF’s and World Bank’s 2009 rankings, the annual GDP per capita (nominal) of most of the countries whose citizens require UK visas is well below even one fourth of that required amount. So as the target customers who are supposed to buy the service – the very customers whose being out there (demand) is used by policy makers to justify the existence of the visa/customer service (supply) in the first place – can’t afford to do so; it is only those who are significantly richer than their compatriots residing in the land of the poor that are allowed – albeit temporarily – into the land of the rich.

What is also essential for the maintenance of this restrictive immigration regime and its economy is that the First World manages to continue presenting itself as the land of promises. Paradoxically, the two factors  that render the First World attractive and enable it to keep up the appearance of a land of promises – namely the wealth of the its capitalist fee market economy and the consumerist liberties of its neoliberal democracy – depend in the first place on the condition that they remain distinctive and exclusive. In other words, the richer nation-states can only remain more “developed” hence more attractive than the others by maintaining the national borders which not only  keep the structural problems faced by millions living in less fortunate parts of the globe on a daily basis at a safe distance, but also secure their internal wealth and health against turmoil. Such wealth and health secured by exclusivity then becomes the pull factor which in return brings in the visa revenue that contributes to such countries’ state of “more developed existence.”

As stated above, alongside the macroeconomics of the border[4] exist localized microeconomics consisting of clientelistic networks which operate within an informal economy built around the First World consulates. Nevertheless, such networks are gradually disappearing due to the above mentioned privatization of the border as nation-states are increasingly subcontracting private companies to deliver customer services such as visa appointment booking systems. In order to shed more light on such networks I will relate an anecdote from my own life but before I do that I want to make an observation: As I have been living away from my home country (Turkey) for the last seven years, I have been to numerous consulates/immigration agencies, been exposed to various visa application procedures, and have experienced various degrees of mistreatment and humiliation. Paradoxically, the worst treatment I had to endure at a consulate was back home in Istanbul. Strikingly, once I made it to Europe the clerks working at the consulates located in various European cities treated me more kindly, that is, less like a second rate human being. If I’m not mistaken, the fact that I was already allowed to be present within the EU border was regarded by the consulate workers as sufficient proof that I was one of the wealthy and cultivated “visa-worthy” few as compared to the masses of poor “barbarians” back home. Sadly, it seems the foreign border is at its strongest at home…

So now the anecdote: Seven years ago, I was freshly out of college in Istanbul and had received a scholarship to study philosophy for a year in a private liberal arts college in Berlin. At the time the visa services of the German consulate had not been privatized so there was no appointment booking system. So the only way to apply for a visa was to queue in front of the consulate’s visa section. You had to stand in line out in the open air come rain or shine between 09:00 and 12:00 and come noon the doors would be shut. On the average about 500 individuals would be queuing up and only 50 of them or so would be admitted to the consulate while the remaining 450, who were well aware of this fact, kept waiting in line just in case. The names of the 10 or so individuals at the head of the queue who had made it to the cut-off point would be put on a list so that they would be admitted first thing next morning without queuing, and the rest had to go home having waited for 3 hours yet having acquired no advantage which would help them achieve their goal the next day. The following morning they would have to queue from scratch.  It was almost like knowing that your chance of winning the lottery is ridiculously small but buying a ticket just in case. Of course, there actually is an immigration lottery as the US hands out permanent residence permits to lucky migrants who have won the green card lottery!

I won’t go into the details of the mistreatment and humiliation I have experienced and witnessed during this process. The main point is that it took me five consecutive days of being hassled by consulate guards and waiting in line under the scorching August sun in order to be able to get in and apply for the visa.  Even worse, I had to spend two nights camping in front of the consulate. And after I finally succeeded to apply, it took them more than a month to issue my visa so that I had to delay my trip and I ended up missing the first few weeks of the term. As I was experiencing this humiliating procedure along with hundreds of fellow applicants wishing to set foot on German soil, I also witnessed some peculiar side-economies of the border: To begin with there were lots of rich people who hired the poor for ridiculously low wages to stand in line on their behalf. Hence, there was a large number of otherwise unemployed men hanging around the consulates and trying to make their living in such a fashion. Of course, as they were competing with each other to sell their unskilled labor, rivalries and disputes were commonplace. There were also small time crooks belonging to Istanbul’s “parking lot mafia” forcing the applicants-to-be camping in front of the consulate at night to “hire” them so that their place on the non-existent queue would be “protected” against intrusions from members of other gangs. Moreover, the owner of a rundown coffee house in close vicinity to the consulate had capitalized on the non-existence of rival establishments, hence he was benefitting from his monopoly by overcharging the drowsy, prospective visa applicants for a variety of consumer goods and services: from lukewarm tea to stale sandwiches, from bottled drinking water to filthy toilets. There were also rich businessmen hiring tourism agency employees to bribe the consulate workers so that their wives could go on shopping sprees in Milan, London or Paris. What these practices of bribery indicate is that the borders of the first world were and are more porous than they would admit or want to be, so that people with wealth and access to necessary informal networks could and can infiltrate the border without going through the official and proper steps/produces. Once again, these are privileges that come along with capital and class. As mentioned above, most of these informal services are disappearing with the privatization of the border. Nevertheless, the tourism agency bribery scheme remains ever popular.

Up until recently, what had remained constant in my dealings with the border economy was that the consular experience was pretty much confrontational and adversarial: The visa clerks sit behind a glass partition and seem to show almost no humanly compassion or sympathy. It’s almost as though they detest you for daring to apply for the privilege of travelling to their home country, for venturing into their home territory (the land on which the consular building is built belongs to the nation-state being represented), for standing anxiously in front of them and taking up their time which they would rather spend doing something else. Or worse, some seem to explicitly enjoy their position of power; they thrive on the hierarchical might bestowed on them by the international immigration regime as they savor belittling and mistreating you. And all of this takes place while you are dehumanized as your achievements and personality are reduced to an application number and the digits in your bank account.[5] Because of all this, throughout my encounters with consular workers I have always considered them my enemy.

Recently however, I had the chance to hear their side of the story as I met someone who used to work at German consulate’s visa section at Istanbul when I had applied for my student visa. According to this person, the consulate workers themselves are being crushed by the pressure of profit maximization as they have to meet efficiency standards (a certain number applications must be processed without fail within a certain amount of time) and each applicant exists as a potential liability for the visa officer on a personal/financial level since once she issues someone a visa, she automatically becomes responsible for covering the legal/deportation costs for that individual if he overstays his welcome or breaks the law. Moreover, rather than having the freedom to choose whether or not to work in the visa section – which she said was highly unpopular –  the public servants at the beginning of their foreign service career are appointed to work there as the system of rotation requires. So the visa officer is also a victim, a wage laborer, an immaterial worker being exploited and oppressed by the capitalist mechanism of profit extraction. Nevertheless, the amount of victimization that a career in the foreign service of a First World nation state involves is not the same as the one working in a call center in the Third World entails. The visa clerk is not only blessed (or cursed) with a significant amount of hierarchical power that affects others’ lives deeply on a daily basis (he or she decides or at least is part of the unjust and oppressive mechanism that decides where certain individuals may or may not spend their lives), buying into the propaganda of a nation-building project/nationalist ideology so that one identifies oneself with a nation-state to the extent that one chooses to represent it abroad is also problematic as far as I’m concerned. Neither do I find it all right to implement one’s government’s restrictive border policies…

Despite all these problems, the visa officer remains simultaneously a victim as he is a wage laborer being oppressed by the capitalist mechanism of profit extraction. This terrifying obligation to cover the law-breaking migrant’s legal/deportation fees is an absurdly extreme version of corporate pressure. After all, even if the CEO of a holding makes a bad financial decision which loses the company a huge deal of money, he ends up losing his job but no one forces him to pay back the company the money he has caused them to lose. Similarly, a doctor will not be held responsible if a patient dies as long as he follows conventional modes of therapy and does everything in his power to cure to patient. Apart from extreme cases of intentional abuse, most cases of malpractice are settled out of court and it is not the physician who might lose his job/license but the hospital that has to pay the damages. Indeed, the comparison with disease and infection is fitting here. After all, the border is seldom as strikingly visible as in the facial expression of a visa applicant who, upon days of eager anticipation, receives his passport back. As soon as he has that little leather-bound booklet in his hands, he excitedly leaves through it until he comes upon page of the freshly issued visa. Immediately his face lights up with delight and relief as though he has just received promising news of a fresh cure for his terminal disease. The visa officer then is analogous to the oncologist while the inability to access the land of promises that is the First World is the cancer. Of course, the real disease, the real infection is not the inability to access the land of promises but the very border itself.

With the arrival of UK points based immigration’s privatized border experience, the confrontational nature of the consular visa application procedure has disappeared. With the new customer services approach the hierarchical power relation has become somewhat disguised and subtler but perhaps therefore it has become more sinister. What then is this new system? As part of UK’s new immigration policy, the newly formed UK Border Agency has subcontracted the Computer Sciences Corporation based in Falls Church, Virginia in 2007 and introduced WorldBridge visa application centers (VAC) in 15 countries throughout Europe, the Americas, North Africa and the Middle East. WorldBridge call centers have been set up in additional 87 countries. The first three visa application centers were opened in Düsseldorf, Munich, and Berlin. The technical name for the centers in Munich and Berlin is Micro-VAC since they can’t issue visas themselves but process applications and send them to the main center in Dusseldorf which operates in liaison with the British consulate there.  The crucial thing about the Micro-VACs is that applicants provide their documents and biometric data (finger prints and digital face scan) in person after having made an online visa application, paid around €170 (student applicants) and secured an appointment. The Computer Sciences Corporation has also three major offices in Europe, Australia and Asia, and a total of 92000 employees serving clients in more than 90 countries. According to their website, their annual revenue as of October 2009 was $16 billion.

The crucial difference that comes with the WorldBridge experience is that the customer service mentality schizophrenically treats you as though you had a dual personality: As the visa applicant you are being treated as a potential criminal so you have to give your finger prints and biometric data which will be stored for the next ten years in a UK Border Agency database and will be shared with international security organizations such as CIA and Mossad for the purposes of fighting “crime,” “illegal” immigration and “terrorism.” But as the paying customer your comfort and needs are also taken into consideration so that you have a smooth and pleasant corporate experience: As I arrived in January 2010 for my UK visa appointment at the office tower WorldBridge shares with PricewaterhouseCoopers at Berlin’s Potsdamerplatz; I was welcomed by the smiling face of a courteous non-British receptionist – a lady of African origin with German citizenship –  offering me, in a fashion similar to easyJet, an array of customer services to complement my application (sealed envelopes, photocopying facilities, a Polaroid automat, and a courier service) at a marginal extra fee. Then I was taken upstairs where I let my finger prints and biometric scan be taken by yet another non-British national – this time an American – who was not sitting behind a glass panel as the case used to be, but was physically in the same room with me, chitchatting as though the operations he was carrying out were perfectly mundane and normal; as though the relation between us were a neutral one. Although he, just like his more adversarial predecessors, exercised hierarchical power over me – he had the right to not process my application, to accuse me of non-compliance – he seemed to be guilt-free as he was not working at the consulate where the application would finally end up; hence, had no final decision power. As far as he was concerned, he was just a plain employee, working for a neutral company offering services to paying customers. As he was aiding the British government in selling me the privilege to enter the UK (disguised as a limited right) he seemed to think his actions were more akin to and as innocent as selling me a UK holiday package.

Here’s the gist of the argument then: What we had before the new customer service approach as manifested by WorldBridge was a confrontational and degrading procedure in which one had to deal with the citizens of the nation-state to which one was making a visa application.  As such, the consulate worker shared to some extent the experience of victimization with the applicant since as he existed not only as the oppressor but also as the oppressed wage laborer being crushed under the capitalist pressure of profit maximization. In our new epoch of privatized border experience, the visa officer as a corporate employee is even more distanced to and alienated from the applicant with whom he only has a commercial relationship.  Moreover, this distantiation and its diffusion of responsibility – the WorldBridge employee has no final say – render indifference and discrimination more probable. As stated above, in such a corporate environment the visa officer does not even have to be a citizen of the country one is applying to – the final visa was issued at the British consulate in Düsseldorf by a British national whom I had no contact with, but the hired individuals I personally encountered as an applicant in Berlin were non-British. Before, we had the consulate workers playing the role of oncologists as they offered us temporary relief from the terminal malady of not being able to access the exclusive land of promises that the First World presents itself to be. Now, those who personally attend to our travel-sickness (pun intended) are corporate employees who like the pediatrician distract us with the candy just before they stick the needle in; that is, just before they take our money and finger-prints, and take away our dignity.

What now follow are three issues or questions for discussion. First of all, speaking about borders (especially in art) and their toppling down within the confines of a prestigious university in a First World metropolis is already dependent on numerous privileges in regard to borders; borders that are non-permeable for others, esp. those who come from the poorer parts of the globe and for whom philosophy or art is still a luxury. And when we sit in a college campus in London, Paris or Berlin as we discuss borders in art, politics, philosophy, or life in general we often take the everyday reality of western neoliberal democratic society, which enables us to be there and talk about such things in the first place, as granted; we usually can’t escape the pitfall of Eurocentrism which treats such everyday existence as the measuring unit of all life and reality. Within this context, any account of borders and especially their transgression must at first address or at least accept this position of privilege. This must be, as it were, the fundamental condition of criticality. But not in a Christian confessional way so that it becomes obsolete in the sense that before we speak we admit our guilt and then carry on with business as usual. Rather, the awareness of our privilege should weigh so heavy on our shoulders that it incites us, forces us to take steps in the direction of changing things concretely. Of course, this is much easier said than done and we often end up in the pub rather than out in the streets after such “thought provoking” sessions, drinking our misery away.

Speaking of taking to the streets and activism, there seems to be a lack of information among the First World general public about the injustice of immigration regimes. This is partially understandable as citizens of “developed” nations seldom have the enlightening experience of being harassed by consulate officials or being humiliated and treated as second rate human beings at the First World border. For example, many of my friends in Berlin, who are not politically active per se but would define themselves as leaning towards the left in the sense that they vote for the social democrats or the Greens, were ignorant of and astounded by the fact that I, one of them, can’t travel abroad without prior planning and preparation (gathering of documents and funds, obtaining of the visa) as they can and do. For them life is simpler, you can be globally mobile as long as you can afford the airfare. Similarly, they were pretty much misinformed about my lack of rights as a legal alien (from the Third World[6]) in their country. Even among the much better informed group of activists, there is a tendency to take the issue seriously and mobilize only when the Other/foreigner is marginalized to the extent that he is the victim of either inhumane living conditions or persecution and often violence. Of course, mobilized actions against deportations and detention centers are extremely important yet it distresses me that mobilization is mainly grounded on the pain and suffering of others. It always takes yet another deportation or abuse, yet another tragedy for us to get together and try to fight back.  Can we find a way then to speak of and practice an activism that is not always reactionary but also preemptive?

Lastly, I find the metaphor of infection very suiting because everyday life is indeed increasingly contaminated by borders.  Border is not simply a neutral demarcation that separates two distinct entities. It is not just edges or boundaries that define matter as contained within the form of the object, hence not just a condition of existence. It is not only a category enabling the perception of reality, i.e. the ultimate border between the subject and the object as well as the borders between objects themselves. Neither does it accurately describe the coexistence of different yet equally valuable/important singularities within a multiplicity. Yet under global capitalism and its neoliberal multiculturalism border appears to be all of these things at once. Border is hierarchy, it is power and subjugation. It designates a zone of privilege against a zone of deprivation, be this zone/area territorial or corporeal. Border is seldom egalitarian; one person standing on the one side of the border usually has distinction over the person standing on the other side. And the distinction of the border provides various benefits to various actors in various ways and formations. Border is also a norm, it marks the edge of what is acceptable and permitted, what can and can’t be (let) done. Border as law – this law is violently imposed and then this symbolic violence that took place is repressed – is also the prerequisite of transgression which via its enactment, via its stepping beyond simultaneously announces the existence of its Other; namely the norm/border. Hence transgression sustains the border; its subversion reproduces the norm. The border in one form or another keeps popping up, keeps reappearing even if we transgress it. In everyday life we have a proliferation of micro-borders, power struggles, hierarchies, distinctions. Here we can talk of the border’s subsumption of everyday life, a subsumption that leads to a multiplicity of the borders incarnations.

Is it then because global capitalism relies on the spread of borders (deterritorialization – reterritorialization) to the domain of everyday life that the border as concept has become infectious and contagious to such an extent that we are all infected; that we cannot function without the framework of the border and it appears – presents itself (Marx’ erscheinen) – to be fundamental for human existence? Is it the case that capitalism creates various borders and then they come to present themselves as the natural order of things? Or is it the other way around? Is there really a fundamental human drive to seek distinction and set up borders (not only international borders sustaining the nations-state system but also everyday life borders like subject-object, male-female, teacher-student, parent-child, law enforcer-citizen, private property-public property, employer-employee, bourgeoisie-proletariat, etc.) so that the capitalist mode of production not creates it but rather capitalizes on it? Especially in our days of financial crisis when the “communist hypothesis” is gaining popularity among academic circles we must confront ourselves with this question. When we dream of and strive to create a just and better world that is devoid of borders – borders between nations, classes, genders and sexes, ethnicities and religions – we must address the question of whether border creation is indeed indigenous to human existence, indigenous to life. It seems to me only if we can answer this question satisfactorily can we begin to deal with borders and their disassembly in a meaningful way that makes the sustenance of a just, better world possible…

Enis Oktay Berlin, 18.08.10


[1] Another common scenario entails holders of valid Schengen visas being turned down at the border and sent back since their first point of entry has not been the country that has issued the visa. For example, a Turkish citizen who has gotten a Schengen visa from the French consulate in Istanbul but travels to Belgium first is refused admittance and instructed to enter the zone via France if he wishes to enter Belgium with the visa in question. This actually goes against the spirit of the Schengen agreement. Yet, this practice is not against international law which states holding a valid visa does not mean automatic admittance, immigration officers reserve the right to grant or refuse access at the border.

[2] The full list is alphabetically: Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel,  Japan, Macau, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand,  Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay,  Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela.

[3] The following world map clearly shows the correlation between national wealth and the global distribution of Schengen visa-waiver rights: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:EU_visa_lists.png

[4] Human trafficking, which this paper does not address, is also a significant part of the macroeconomics of the border.

[5] Various schemes to attract high-skilled migrants are the exception to this. Although the prospective migrant’s annual income is still a decisive factor there, his past vocational achievements also matter a great deal.

[6] I’m not sure if Turkey qualifies as the Third World, nevertheless there is a discrepancy in Germany between the rights of a migrant who comes from places such as the US or Canada and one who comes from Turkey. For example, according to a recent law, if one is married to a German citizen and happens to come from a “less desirable” country such as Turkey, one will be required to provide proof of basic German language skills (common European level A2) to be able to apply for a visa to come to Germany and live with one’s spouse. Spouses from richer countries are exempt from this requirement. If you happen to come for example from Egypt you’ll need to speak basic German to be granted access to Germany where your German spouse resides, if you come from the US or Canada you won’t need to!

Points-Based Immigration System in Context: 16 October 2010

Points-Based Immigration System in Context: Research and Campaign Strategies
10am-6pm, Saturday 16 October 2010, University of London Union, Malet
Street, London WC1
This conference will present new research on issues related to the
points-based immigration system (PBIS) as it affects Further and Higher
Education. The conference will assess:
a) the wider significance of immigration;
b) the full consequences of PBIS;
c) the characteristics  of new systems of regulation and surveillance in
universities and colleges.
The conference aims to offer both expertise in
research but also a focus for campaigners who object to the fundamentally
discriminatory nature of the rules.
Supported by UCU, ULU, Centre for Cultural Studies, Department of
Politics, Department of Media & Communications (all at Goldsmiths)

Points-Based Immigration System in Context: 16 October 2010July 20, 2010Points-Based Immigration System in Context: Research and Campaign Strategies10am-6pm, Saturday 16 October 2010, University of London Union, MaletStreet, London WC1
This conference will present new research on issues related to thepoints-based immigration system (PBIS) as it affects Further and HigherEducation. The conference will assess:a) the wider significance of immigration;b) the full consequences of PBIS;c) the characteristics  of new systems of regulation and surveillance inuniversities and colleges.
The conference aims to offer both expertise inresearch but also a focus for campaigners who object to the fundamentallydiscriminatory nature of the rules.
Supported by UCU, ULU, Centre for Cultural Studies, Department ofPolitics, Department of Media & Communications (all at Goldsmiths)

**************

Erm, Stop Press/ *Hot Topic Alert*/  – because the Points based immigration in context conference is coming up soonish, this blog will be temporarily turned over to various longer pieces discussing the new ‘objects’ of immigration law/oppression. Some of the papers to be ‘published’ here on this blog are talks that were given at the Beyond Text Creativity Across Borders workshops, some are destined for publication elsewhere and appear here with thanks, others have been written for the blog. Please read and discuss (Trinketization will return to its usual occasional transmission shortly, but in the meantime, something important… – See the Border page (side bar) for an index to the articles)

Articles so far:

Enis Oktay – From Oncology to Pediatrics: The Infectious Border Economy and the Corporate Border Experience

Ben Rosenzweig – International student struggles, or, Causes of the mediated processes of reproduction

Nandita Dogra – The ‘Kingdom’ Strikes Twice- Double Whammy on Post-study Skilled Immigrants.

More to come…

Ruined in Ladywell

Mourn for Adhesive Specialities. Most favourite architectural folly in Ladywell (and there are many). Where was Owen H when we needed him?

make some noise

ACCELERATIONISM: CCS Goldsmiths 14.9.2010

The Centre for Cultural Studies presents:

ACCELERATIONISM

But which is the revolutionary path? Is there one? – To withdraw from the world market, as Samir Amin advises Third World Countries to do, in a curious revival of the fascist “economic solution”? Or might it be to go in the opposite direction? To go further still, that is, in the movement of the market, of decoding and deterritorialization? For perhaps the flows are not yet deterritorialized enough, not decoded enough, from the viewpoint of a theory and practice of a highly schizophrenic character. Not to withdraw from the process, but to go further, to “accelerate the process,” as Nietzsche put it: in this matter, the truth is that we haven’t seen anything yet

–        Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus

The English unemployed did not have to become workers to survive, they – hang on tight and spit on me – enjoyed the hysterical, masochistic, whatever exhaustion it was of hanging on in the mines, in the foundries, in the factories, in hell, they enjoyed it, enjoyed the mad destruction of their organic body which was indeed imposed upon them, they enjoyed the decomposition of their personal identity, the identity that the peasant tradition had constructed for them, enjoyed the dissolutions of their families and villages, and enjoyed the new monstrous anonymity of the suburbs and the pubs in morning and evening.

–        Jean-Francois Lyotard Libidinal Economy

Machinic revolution must therefore go in the opposite direction to socialistic regulation; pressing towards ever more uninhibited marketization of the pro­cesses that are tearing down the social field, “still further” with “the movement of the market, of decoding and deterritorialization” and “one can never go far enough in the direction of deterritori­alization: you haven’t seen anything yet”.

–        Nick Land, “Machinic Desire”

In the early 1970s, post-68 French thinkers such as Deleuze and Guattari and Lyotard made the heretical suggestion that capital should not be resisted but accelerated. Deplored, repudiated then forgotten, this remarkable moment was returned to only in the UK during the 1990s, in  the theory-fiction of Nick Land, Iain Hamilton Grant, Sadie Plant and the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit. Drawing upon Fernand Braudel, Manuel DeLanda, and cyber-theory, 90s accelerationism drew a distinction between markets (as bottom-up self-organising networks) and capital (an oligarchic and predatory system of control).  Was  accelerationism merely  a new cybernetic mask for neoliberalism? Or does the call to “accelerate the process” mark out a  political position that has never been properly developed, and which still has a potential to reinvigorate the left?

This one-day symposium will think through the implications of accelerationism in the light of the forthcoming publication of Nick Land’s Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007 and Benjamin Noys’s The Persistence of the Negative

Speakers:

Ray Brassier –  co-editor with Robin Mackay of Nick Land’s Fanged Noumena. Collected Writings 1987-2007 (2010)

Mark Fisher –  author of  k-punk blog and a founder member of the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit

Robin Mackay –  philosopher, director of Urbanomic, editor of Collapse

Benjamin Noys, – author of The Persistence of the Negative (2010), blogs at No Useless Leniency

Nick Srnicek – author of Speculative Heresy blog, PhD candidate at LSE, and is working with Alex Williams on a book critiquing folk politics

Alex Williams –  working on a book on accelerationism, blogs at Splintering Bone Ashes

_____________

Room RHB 256

Goldsmiths, University of London

13:00-17:00, 14th September 2010

Recently, at the Centre for Cultural Studies

In June we hosted a hugely successful kind of double event, taking place in two locations London and Gothenberg, Sweden. The first part was a discussion of race and politics with keynote speakers Professors Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Fred Moten in conversation. Over 300 attended, and the highlight was Gayatri Spivak’s three hour examination of the 7 pages of Franz Fanon’s work where he discusses the philosopher George F. Hegel – what was stunning about this was a group of scholars consulting texts in three languages: the Hegel in German, the French translation Fanon used, Fanon’s own French text, and the English translations of both Fanon and Hegel. A seminar those there will not forget, or recover from, in a hurry (we are currently transcribing it for a book). The meeting then continued on the theme of Borders at a week long conference as part of the Clandestino Music Festival in Sweden, attended by over a dozen of the Centre’s PhDs, where Professor Spivak was again the keynote, but alongside other attractions such as DJ Watts Riot from Fun-da-mental and the immortal Caribbean sonic dub master Lee Scratch Perry.

This musical turn in the Centre for Cultural Studies may have hinted at new directions, since the Centre’s end of term party – always a hot ticket at Goldsmiths – also featured two bands – the local eccentric pop outfit ‘Diaphragm Failure’ and the Boston based Pakistani Punk band ‘The Kominas’ (famous for tracks like ‘Jihad in Amerikka’ and ‘Suicide Bomb the Gap’). A conference on Piracy and Pirate Radio is just one of the things in the making for the next year.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,752 other followers

%d bloggers like this: