Workshop: Solidarities with the missing and disappeared? Disappearing migrants and emerging politics

Conveners: Laura Huttunen (TAU); Ville Laakkonen (TAU)


Type of workshop: academic presentations

Languages: English/ Finnish

A growing number of people disappear while on the move (IOM 2017). Several studies show that the disappearance of a family member is a particular kind of suffering for those left behind. At the same time, disappearances are often problematic for the smooth running of state bureaucracies. However, different disappearances are differently recognized by public policies, state bureaucracies and media coverage. At the moment, people disappeared from their families and communities turn up as unidentified dead bodies at the Mediterranean shores and in the US –Mexico border areas in alarming numbers. The situation has given rise to a whole range of actors addressing migrant deaths and disappearances, with hugely varying aims and resources. Many of the large, established organizations address these issues, while also small NGOs and family organizations are emerging. The way in which these various actors conceptualize disappearances varies significantly from case to case: while some have adopted ‘forced disappearance’ as the key concept, others approach the issue with the notion of ‘missing person’. Can these emerging politics and policies be understood as forms of solidarity? Is solidarity the most useful frame for approaching the issue? We invite papers that discuss ways of addressing migrant deaths and disappearances ranging from the families of the missing to political contestations. Both empirical case studies and theoretical considerations of disappearance as a particular kind of predicament needing particular kind of solidarities are welcome.