Given the significant similarities and differences between the welfare states of Northern Europe and their reactions to the perceived 'refugee crisis' of 2015, the book focuses primarily on the three main cases of Denmark, Sweden and Germany. Placed in a wider Northern European context – and illustrated by those chapters that also discuss refugee experiences in Norway and the UK – the Danish, Swedish and German cases are the largest case studies of this edited volume. Thus, the book contributes to debates on the governance of non-citizens and the meaning of displacement, mobility and seeking asylum by providing interdisciplinary analyses of a largely overlooked region of the world, with two specific aims. First, we scrutinize the construction of the 2015 crisis as a response to the large influx of refugees, paying particular attention to the disciplinary discourses and bureaucratic structures that are associated with it. Second, we investigate refugees’ encounters with these bureaucratic structures and consider how these encounters shape hopes for building a new life after displacement. This allows us to show that the mobility of specific segments of the world’s population continues to be seen as a threat and a risk that has to be governed and controlled. Focusing on the Northern European context, our volume interrogates emerging policies and discourses as well as the lived experiences of bureaucratization from the perspective of individuals who find themselves the very objects of bureaucracies.
Virtual red tape, or digital v.
Our everyday Camusian-existential struggle […] is played ‘as if’ it
were unfolding within a labyrinth-like bureaucracy, as we wrestle
with the increasing complexity of contemporary life, with its spider’s
web of rules and regulations, some often contradicting the others.
(Warner, 2007: 1028)
Framing technology has changed: what about overflows?
Before I move to the main topic of my chapter, ‘virtual red tape’
as a new way of framing bureaucratic overflows, a few words about
. Organisations were unsure whether to list all the items they wanted to bring to the DPRK or only sanctioned items, with different groups taking different approaches (anonymous interview, 2019). Areas of confusion related to UNSC exemptions that came up in interviews included the presence of instructions but a lack of clarity around how things worked in practice, and difficult and opaque bureaucracy. Not all interviewees agreed with this, with one American interviewee finding the UN process clearer than the US process and containing better feedback. American interviewees
decolonisation to which it led, the ‘complex emergencies’ of the 1990s
created policy problems with which they have often allowed humanitarians to deal. This created a
kind of ‘plausible deniability’ consistent with neoliberal principles that stress
privatisation and the shrinking of public bureaucracy. This provides a convenient answer to the
question of what is being done and a simple way to maintain an arms-length relationship between
engagement in messy political problems and denial (give money, award projects, do not do it
yourself, blame others
Architecture, Building and Humanitarian Innovation
unwieldy bureaucracies that dominated in the
past ( Betts and Bloom, 2014 ). The concept
of innovation has sometimes been articulated in terms of the 4Ps – new
products, new processes, new positioning and new paradigms – which flowed
from the private sector to turn powerless beneficiaries into empowered consumers
( Ramalingam et al. ,
2009 ). The central argument, for many, is that the humanitarian sector
lacks the cut and thrust of a competitive
Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps, Lasse Heerten, Arua Oko Omaka, Kevin O'Sullivan, and Bertrand Taithe
( 2018b ), ‘Du Congo au Biafra. Guerres
civiles et actions humanitaires dans les relations internationales
postcoloniales’ , Relations
internationales , 176 : 4 ,
55 – 67 .
( 2014 ), The Invention of a European Development Aid
Bureaucracy: Recycling Empire
violence of welfare bureaucracies
crisis almost vanished from public discourse a few months later. What
remains, however, are debates about what institutional arrangements are
best suited to ‘integrate’ the refugees and maximise their utility for the
welfare state they encounter.
Despite the spotlight, whether during the ‘long summer of migration’
in 2015 (Hess et al., 2016; Odugbesan and Schwiertz, 2018), which led
to the constructed notion of a refugee crisis, or in the many welfare state
interventions that target refugees across Europe, little is known about the
Understanding the violence of the benevolent welfare state in Norway
and the violence of welfare bureaucracies
are characterised as ‘simple accommodations’ [nøktern botilbud], which
should secure the inhabitants’ basic needs and security (UDI Rundskriv RS
2008-031). Such centres are either centralised, that is refugees living in the
same building as the camp administration – former hotels, schools or other
institutions, or decentralised, in which case the refugees and asylum seekers
are allocated ordinary flats or houses in vicinity to the camp administration.
Such decentralised reception centres are usually preferred, as the
Contesting the meaning of the 2015 refugee crisis in Sweden
situation, such as a crisis or structural
2) Methodological or explanatory level. Statements on this level theorize
the means and applications of any political intervention and contain
claims about the causality of political and social processes.
Refugees and the violence of welfare bureaucracies
3) Normative level. Statements on this level describe core values and goals
of practices and policies on the one hand, and provide a justification for
such values and goals on the other.
Although interrelated in practice, I separate these levels in