A Politics of Sensitivity: Sub-Saharan Migration as an Algerian Field of Practice
Abstract: Despite Algeria’s status as a transit and a destination for sub-Saharan migrants, there is no official migration policy in the country. This study explores how state and non-state actors construct a distinct field of practice of sub-Saharan migration in the vacuum of a missing formulated Algerian migration policy. Through qualitative research methods, thirteen key actors in the area of sub-Saharan migration in Algeria were interviewed about their perceptions of the field of practice of migration and of their roles in the field, their responses to the conditions of migration, and their ways of exercising agency and power in the field. By bridging theoretical perspectives from sociology, political science and international relations, this study demonstrates that migration practices are executed on a national as well as an international level, intersected by expressions of power and agency. Ultimately, I argue that the field of practice pertaining to sub-Saharan migration in Algeria is principally driven by a notion of securitization and sovereignty principles. Thus, assertions of the EU’s extensive influence on migration politics in Algeria are questioned. This study also shows that other state and non-state actors contribute to the field of practice of migration, mainly through diplomatic and humanitarian practices, as well as exchanges and strategies. Due to the interplay of flows of agency and structures connecting the national level to the international one, the Algerian field of practice pertaining to sub-Saharan migration constitutes a politics of sensitivity.
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