Genealogies of contention in concentric circles

Remote migration control and its Eurocentric geographical imaginaries

Keywords: migration control, borders, externalization, eurocentrism, maps


While border crossing constitutes a hot policy and scholarly concern, borders themselves are actively “crossing” over people on the move. As institutional practices actively b/ordering populations –as in containing, classifying and discriminating-, borders do not only take place at the territorial limits of countries. In fact, the act of arranging people into hierarchies of mobility is becoming a ubiquitous process wherever one might be. This chapter reflects on the origins of the spatial displacement of borders further away from apparent destination countries. Concretely, how the European Union developed the geographic imaginary of ‘concentric circles’ that underpins practices of contention thousands of kilometres away from its borderlines. Such a process unfolds thanks to the conditional collaboration from third countries to manage suspected migratory movements. Based on archival research of EU documents initially proposing this form of remote migration ‘management’, we unfold a genealogy of border externalization that uncovers a rather Eurocentric cartographic imaginary at work beneath expert-driven and neutral sounding policies.