Border topologies: The time-spaces of labour migrant regulation

Allen, John and Axelsson, Linn (2019). Border topologies: The time-spaces of labour migrant regulation. Political Geography, 72 pp. 116–123.



Labour migrants seeking work and employment increasingly find themselves having to negotiate an ambiguous migrant status that leaves them neither fully included, nor fully excluded, from a political community. Of late, there has been a recognition that such ambiguity arises as much from temporal as spatial border management practices. Rather than consider time and temporality as integral to the distorted spatiality of contemporary political borders, however, the tendency has been to treat the former as a supplement to the latter. In this paper, we set out to show how time and space work through one another to place migrant workers partly on the ‘inside’, partly on the ‘outside’, by selectively combining their pre-and post-entry experiences. In order to make sense of this series of temporal and spatial entanglements, we advance a particular topological reading that aims to show how complex migrant positions are produced and maintained by bringing the times before and after the border into play as part of what enables governments to include and exclude labour migrants in a more differentiated manner. Such regulated time-spaces, of which we outline two, indefinite exclusion and suspended inclusion, in our view, offer a more accurate account of the ways in which migrant workers are simultaneously included and excluded.

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