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Regional responses to transnational migration in North and Central America

Citation: Kron, Stefanie (2011) Regional responses to transnational migration in North and Central America. In: Annual Globalisation and Latin American Development lecture, January 2011, Institute for the Study of the Americas. (Unpublished)

This paper analyses the manifestations of and contestations to the migration management paradigm in North and Central America. I pay special attention to the understudied Central American Isthmus countries. I argue that migration management is not only an important response to increasing transnational migration but it also shapes the institutional arrangements of a new regional mobility regime. This regime is characterised by multilateralisation and tends to establish new forms of social control on mobile populations. Informed by studies of neoliberal governmentality and international government, recent research has criticised the concept of migration management as marked by a depoliticising language that tends to ‘teach’ technocratic western standards of migration governance to the countries and former ‘imperial subjects’ of the global South. Somewhat neglected in this recent wave of critical research, however, has been the interest expressed by the countries of the global South in adopting this migration management paradigm. I argue that Costa Rica is an appropriate case to demonstrate such interests. A second omission in recent research is a failure to reveal contestations to migration management discourses and practices. I claim that it is predominantly the strategies of ‘escape’ of migrants and local border societies that challenge migration management and force its actors to adopt flexible strategies of control. I draw on the multi-level and multiactor framework of ethnographic regime analysis in order to analyse both the institutional arrangements of migration management and the actors, practices and strategies of what I call the ‘power of migration’. In doing so I focus empirically on the Regional Conference on Migration in North and Central America (RCM), the new migration law in Costa Rica as well as the dynamics at the Costa Rican northern border region. I show that migration management can be analysed as part of broader social and state transformation processes of the Central American countries and is therefore a contested field.

Additional Information: Dr Kron, of the Freie Universität, Berlin, was a visiting research fellow at ISA for the period October 2010 to February 2011.
Creators: Kron, Stefanie and
Subjects: Human Rights & Development Studies
Latin American Studies
Keywords: globalisation, migration, Costa Rica
Divisions: Institute of Latin American Studies
Collections: ILAS Occasional Paper Series
  • January 2011 (completed)


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