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The depoliticisation of asylum seekers: Carl Schmitt and the Italian system of dispersal reception into cities

Manara, Martina and Piazza, George (2018) The depoliticisation of asylum seekers: Carl Schmitt and the Italian system of dispersal reception into cities. Political Geography, 64. pp. 43-52. ISSN 0962-6298

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2018.02.005


Moving beyond the usual engagement of geographers with the work of Carl Schmitt, this paper utilises his conceptualisations of the political, depoliticisation under liberalism, and political order as spatial division to investigate the situated practices of depoliticisation of asylum seekers. The paper takes as its case-study the recent systemic shift in the Italian system of reception, from containment in reception centers CARA to urban dispersal reception SPRAR. Drawing on interviews and focus groups involving seventy asylum seekers, we identify one practice of depoliticisation connected with urban dispersal: atomisation. This spatial division of asylum seekers from each other results from three mechanisms: tensions with the local community, the allocation and management of asylum seekers in flats by SPRAR organisations, and the individualisation of reception programs. In so doing, we find the foreclosing of the political in the asylum seekers being precluded from a collective way of life and, consequently, a collective capable of political action. As they cannot constitute the public enemy, asylum seekers only remain as private adversaries, which effectively evades the friend-enemy distinction and the risk of political disorder and conflict.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 Elsevier Ltd
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2018 15:01
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2024 18:12

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