Public Event at the ZiF - Lecture

The pressure to Condemn: Researching Smuggling in the Time of Security

Date: 11 July 2022, 17:00 - 18:15
Location: Online, via Zoom
Gabriella Sanchez (El Paso, USA)
Introduction: Soledad Alvarez Velasco

In the context of the workshop "Moving in a divided world – Transnational crime, national borders and irregular migration"

The persona of the smuggler figures prominently in the global security discourse as a gendered agent of crime and disruption. Researchers around the world have dedicated countless pages to describe every move of those who furtively transport goods, people and services across borders, checkpoints and other human-made barriers. But this effort involves arguable implications. The visibility of smuggling – particularly the kind involving human beings – and its often-tragic outcomes often result in researchers simply reproducing the condemnatory language of the state, further obscuring the ability to look beyond racialized, classist constructs of those behind the journeys of the people excluded from the protection provided by visas and passports.

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of contributions that question the state-centric narratives involving smuggling. However, most of this work has remained oblivious to the ways smuggler as a category is rooted around racist, classist and gendered constructs. In the process this has perpetuated the criminalization not only those who facilitate migration irregularly, but that of the growing numbers of people around the world seeking to reach safety and those who assist them in the process.

What happens when echoing Achilli, we denounce the moral codes that shape collective understandings of smugglers’ actions, the political, often racist and violent campaigns that are carried out in the name of border protection and national security and control? And what are their implications upon those of us who are both researchers but are also seen suspiciously for what our identities as migrants, women, working class people of color communicate to the state? This presentation, building on the work of scholars like Qureshi, asks: what happens when we refuse to condemn the smugglers?

Gabriella Sanchez C.V.
Dr. Gabriella E. Sanchez (Ph.D., Arizona State University) is a research fellow at the Migrant Smuggling Observatory at the European University Institute’s Migration Policy Centre. She specializes in the study of the social dynamics of transnational criminal organizations, her main area of focus being the facilitation of migrant smuggling, the market’s interactions with other criminal groups and the decision making processes of its members.

Participation is only possible via Zoom. Link to the livestream:

Please direct questions concerning the talk to: Trixi Valentin at the Conference Office.
Tel: +49 521 106-2769
Fax: +49 521 106-152769