BIRMM research seminar: Deporting Children. Policy framing, legitimation and intersectional boundary work

Monday 09 January 2023, 11:00 to 12:30

BIRMM warmly invites you to our next research seminar with Laura Cleton on the "Deportation of children. Policy framing, legitimation and intersectional boundary work" on 9 January.


Deporting non-citizens is widely perceived as an inseparable part of nation states’ right to control their borders and to determine who can become part of their community of members. This right is complicated, however, by illegalized children’s claims to belonging, the overarching children’s rights regime, and the imaginary of children’s innocence. In this seminar, Laura Cleton will draw on findings from her dissertation research that investigated how states that seek to deport children, in the face of such disputes, legitimize the need to do so to themselves and to the wider citizenry. Drawing on document analysis and interviews with deportation actors in Belgium and the Netherlands, she argues that actors in both countries deliberately draw attention away from the underlying moral-political conflict and the hardships deportation poses for children. Instead, they foreground the diligence of bureaucratic procedures and their compassionate way of working while simultaneously positioning children and their families as dangers to the citizenry in gendered, racialized and classed ways. While these securitizing narratives should serve to sustain the decision to deport, her dissertation finds that their exclusionary potential is mediated by a humanitarian, morally felt need to protect children from potential harm. This complicates the protection of territorial sovereignty and can instead delay, adjourn or suspend deportation procedures. Her findings therefore complicate current accounts of the workings of securitization and humanitarianism in migration control and highlights the analytical value of intersectionality for studies on deportation governance and the production of migrant deportability. 


Dr. Laura Cleton is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at United Nations University-MERIT & Maastricht University, studying the role of diaspora in development through (temporary) return programs. She previously published on the deportation regime in Belgium and the Netherlands, “assisted voluntary return” (with Reinhard Schweitzer and Sébastien Chauvin), and feminist approaches to migration governance (with Saskia Bonjour), and is currently Associate Editor of the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. Her research interests include return migration governance in Europe, AVR and deportation, feminist approaches to migration studies and family migration.