Migrant Citizenships and Autonomous Mobilities

  • Peter Nyers McMaster University


The study of the political agency and subjectivity of refugees and
migrants has become an increasingly important topic within migration studies. Migration involves struggles around fundamental social and political issues, namely mobility, residence, and citizenship rights. Expressions of this struggle can be found in local actions against detention, deportation, and other border controls; campaigns for regularization and status; the revival of sanctuary cities; and global struggles for freedom of movement. However, the traditional concepts and frameworks of migration do not adequately take into account the full dynamic range of migrant practices of political subject-making. This article analyses the “autonomy of migration” literature within migration studies and critically assesses whether the concepts from this perspective can be mobilized to understand the political agency and subjectivity of migrants. While the autonomist approach to migration makes vital and dynamic contributions to our understanding of migrant political agency, its dismissal of citizenship as an exclusionary concept would benefit from a more nuanced approach.


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Author Biography

Peter Nyers, McMaster University

Associate Professor

Department of Political Science


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