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The deportation continuum: convergences between state agents and NGO workers in the Dutch deportation field

By Barak Kalir and Lieke Wissink


The social field in which deportations of illegalized migrants are operationalized is often perceived to be comprised of two opposing sides that together form a deportation regime: on the one side, street-level state agents, on the other side, civil-society actors. Focusing ethnographically on deportation case managers and NGO workers in the Netherlands, a country known for its consensus politics, our study reveals significant convergences in the manners that illegalized migrants are treated by both sides in usage of terminology, handling of face-to-face interactions and worldviews on issues like belonging and justice. Given these convergences, we argue that the field in which deportation is being negotiated and practiced amounts to a continuum formed by state agents and NGO actors. We argue that a deportation continuum is underlined by shared political subjectivities and creates a sealed-off political realm that restricts the initiatives of activist citizens, imaginaries of citizenship and alternatives for deportation policies.


Deportation, state agents, civil society, NGOs, consensual politics, The Netherlands

Publication details

Citizenship Studies (2015), 20 (1), 34-49. doi: 10.1080/13621025.2015.1107025

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