WORLD ANTHROPOLOGICAL UNION

CONGRESS 2024​

SELECTED PANEL

( pn109 )

Engaged anthropology exploring human rights activism in migration politics

Organizers

    Susanne Schmelter

    German

    Manara Association

    Online - Presence

IUAES Affiliation: Migration

Keywords:

Engaged anthropology, governance, migration and border regime, humanitarianism, human rights

Abstract:

Engaged Anthropology: Exploring Human Rights Activism in the Migration and Border Regime The panel explores expressions of human rights activism within the migration and border regime, while also examining the role of anthropology in advocating for rights-based approaches. Various anthropological studies have demonstrated how humanitarianism often sidelines historical and political narratives, leading to competing needs and undermining rights-based claims and forms of solidarity. The European migration and border regime serves as a stark example where humanitarian modes of governance unravel rights-based demands. Nevertheless, some initiatives articulate claims for basic human rights, while many other form of engagement might rather be understood as “non-movements,” which Asef Bayat (2010) described as the “collective action of noncollective actors,” not rallying around a shared slogan but embodying social and political demands in their day-to-day practices. The panel aims to bring together ethnographic research that follows and unravels human rights activism within the migration and border regime. These studies might encompass collectively organized forms of activism, such as the no-border movement, as well as individual struggles for a life of rights and dignity, which might find expression in daily practices or storytelling. Interested in exploring the extent to which universal human rights and international law can provide a common ground for activist solidarity and research agendas, this panel also contributes to a debate on how engaged anthropology can situate on-the-ground realities within the context of global governance. It raises the question of to what extent human rights standards can actually provide a "terra firma" for anthropologists, whose role is often difficult to define in various settings, particularly in emergency contexts.