Bordering the Sea: Shipping Industries and the Policing of Stowaways
Despite the keen interest that critical scholarship has shown in migration as a form of border transgression, the itinerant figure of the stowaway has received surprisingly little critical scrutiny. This paper suggests that the policing of stowaways by sea merits greater attention. Following a brief discussion of the changing problematic of the stowaway, it focuses on one particular aspect of the governance of stowaways: the role of maritime insurance companies and shipping consultants who have made the prevention and resolution of stowaway incidents into a normal part of their business. A focus on the activities of these agents is merited because it allows for a fuller account of the policing of transgressive migratory practices and identities at maritime borders. But this focus also allows for a rethinking of certain key concepts within migration and border studies more broadly. First, it prompts us to revise what we understand by ‘securitization’. To this end the paper highlights the extent to which the securitization of the stowaway involves banal and technical practices much more than it does than the dramatic acts of threat construction usually associated with the term. Second, this case challenges us to rethink how we understand deportation. For it brings to light the way in which insurers and shipping experts constitute a private industry which specializes in the disembarkation and repatriation of migrants. A fascinating feature of this stowaway removal industry is that it must negotiate the return of its subjects not just into the political space of the world of states, but the terrestrial space of terra firma. Little theoretical attention has been paid to relationships of land and sea within migration governance. The policing of stowaways offers one site where this important theme might usefully be explored in future research.
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© borderlands ejournal 2008