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.

Institutions and the challenges of refugee governance
Dalia Abdelhady

7 Dalia Abdelhady Media constructions of the refugee crisis in Sweden: institutions and the challenges of refugee governance In an article entitled ‘The Death of the Most Generous Nation on Earth’, American journalist James Traub (2016) claims that ‘The vast migration of desperate souls from Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere has posed a moral test the likes of which Europe has not faced since the Nazis forced millions from their homes in search of refuge. Europe has failed that test.’ Sweden stands out as an exception in Traub’s analysis due to the country’s generous

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Deterrence policies and refugee strategies
Martin Bak Jørgensen

4 Martin Bak Jørgensen Representations of the refugee crisis in Denmark: deterrence policies and refugee strategies When (then) Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen gave his New Year’s Address on 1 January 2016 he focused particularly on the high number of refugees and asylum seekers who came to Europe and Denmark in 2015.1 The number both pressed and challenged Denmark, he said and then continued: Let us be honest with each other – we are challenged: it challenges our economy when we have to spend many more billions on asylum seekers and refugees. Money that

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A visual analysis of four frames of representation of ‘refugeeness’ in Swedish newspapers
Jelena Jovičić

6 Jelena Jovičić Images of crisis and the crisis of images: a visual analysis of four frames of representation of ‘refugeeness’ in Swedish newspapers The period 2015–2016 in Sweden (and beyond) became largely known as the refugee crisis – a construct readily associated with a negative event or a destabilizing period of time, which can affect both individuals and larger groups and societies. The term crisis came alongside the word ‘refugee’ – a pairing which is particularly loaded and comes with highly problematic political impositions. For example, how did

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Young Palestinian men encountering a Swedish introductory programme for refugees
Nina Gren

9 Nina Gren Living bureaucratisation: young Palestinian men encountering a Swedish introductory programme for refugees My dream is to study at the university. But when you go to [the caseworkers], they do not listen to your ambitions and dreams. They make you believe that you can tell them what you want. In the end they will write in their plans what they want. You want to study? Okay, you are going to study. They write ‘Amir wants to continue his education. Amir wants to study Swedish. Amir is going to take the social integration course. And this basically

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Understanding the violence of the benevolent welfare state in Norway
Nerina Weiss

11 Nerina Weiss The trauma of waiting: understanding the violence of the benevolent welfare state in Norway Bisrat, a refugee from Eritrea, was granted asylum in Norway after a relatively short waiting period of ten months. However, it took another two years before he was settled in a municipality. Asked about how he experienced his time in the reception centre after he was granted asylum, Bisrat answered as follows: It completely changed my behaviour. It is difficult when you have to spend three years of your life waiting for something. It is a very expensive

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Dalia Abdelhady, Nina Gren, and Martin Joormann

1 Dalia Abdelhady, Nina Gren, and Martin Joormann Introduction Summer 2015. While the beaches of Greek islands received boat after boat of refugees, a large part of the space of the central station in Copenhagen was occupied by young Danish volunteers who distributed sandwiches, drinks, blankets, and second-hand clothes to crowds of people on the move, most fleeing wars in Syria and Afghanistan. Locals bought train and bus tickets so the travellers could continue their journey onwards to Sweden and beyond. Across the strait forming the Swedish–Danish border

in Refugees and the violence of welfare bureaucracies in Northern Europe
Martin Joormann

2 Martin Joormann Social class, economic capital and the Swedish, German and Danish asylum systems This chapter starts by problematizing the politico-legal distinction between ‘economic migrant’ and ‘refugee’ in the Swedish and wider European contexts. It goes on to discuss the procedural similarities and differences of the Swedish, German and Danish asylum systems, their different appeal instances and their implications regarding the question of who can be granted (refugee) protection status. Drawing on insights from my PhD thesis (Joormann, 2019) and

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Syrian asylum seekers and bureaucracy in Germany
Wendy Pearlman

then I will show them what I can do. (Bilal, Tübingen, Germany) On 21 August 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel invited Syrian refugees to Germany when her government suspended the de-facto policy (the Dublin system, see the Introduction of this volume) of sending asylum seekers back to their European country of entry. Against this backdrop, asylum applications exceeded one million in 2015–2016. The plurality of those attaining refugee or subsidiary protection status was Syrian. In granting asylum, the German state was not only extending legal protection to

in Refugees and the violence of welfare bureaucracies in Northern Europe
Contesting the meaning of the 2015 refugee crisis in Sweden
Admir Skodo

3 Admir Skodo Lesson for the future or threat to sovereignty? Contesting the meaning of the 2015 refugee crisis in Sweden Following the entry of 162,877 asylum seekers in 2015, Sweden introduced border controls in November of that year. These were followed by new laws in 2015–2016 that curtailed the possibility of being granted permanent residence, family reunification, and the social rights of asylum seekers. Such measures were necessary, according to the Swedish government, because the large number of entries triggered a refugee crisis. These were far

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