Irregular Worlds: Senegalese Struggles for Moral Meaning in BarcelonaPublic Deposited
Migrant â€œillegalityâ€ gives way to â€œirregularâ€ livelihoods in Spain and around the world. Studies on migrant â€œillegalityâ€ have generally focused on its political, legal and economic production and the social impact of a stateâ€™s specific biopolitics. While invaluably important, there remains the need to better understand the modes of life people create â€œoutside of the lawâ€ and the various ways everyday practice engenders social worlds of profound personal meaning that traverse state borders. In this dissertation, I approach migrant â€œillegalityâ€ as a historically constituted social field in which people create social worlds despite the overt and covert affront to personhood. I argue such social worlds are marked by a unique quality of waiting embedded in the category of the â€œillegalâ€ migrant that precipitate an everyday suspension of normative systems of moral meaning. ', 'Rather than focus on migrant â€œillegalityâ€ as a nullification of personhood, in this dissertation I approach â€œirregularâ€ status as a state of exception that must be managed at the local level without violating strict state laws. Based on two years of fieldwork in and around what came to be known as â€œirregular settlementsâ€ in Barcelona, Spain, this dissertation interrogates local government strategies to regulate an â€œirregularâ€ segment of the non-citizen population in the city and the everyday struggles of â€œirregularâ€ working class citizens to maximize tenuous spaces into transnational places of heightened autonomy. Deportation has been codified in Spanish immigration law as a natural conclusion to â€œillegalâ€ status but its execution at the local level is often inviable. I draw from my ethnographic fieldwork in buildings transformed into sites for housing and informal labor by working class non-citizens Barcelona to explore local institutional mechanisms to incorporate â€œundocumentedâ€ residents within its immediate realm of action. While migrant â€œillegalityâ€ implies a kind of conscribed existence that today pivots on a humanitarian imperative to maximize life, I argue these â€œirregular settlementsâ€ shed light on the value of spaces marked by a radical autonomy to people as they waited for â€œpapersâ€ or an opportunity to use them. In other words, these settlements were much more than a humanitarian crisis in need of an immediate intervention; they represent a complex social world of profound transnational value.', 'Turning to everyday experience, I argue the ill effects of migrant â€œillegalityâ€ are mitigated when a person has access to spaces in which they manage a sense of self informed by transnational economies of moral value. To wait â€œwith oneâ€™s arms crossedâ€ was untenable to the Senegalese men who participated in this study, despite the fact that they were often accused of â€œdoing nothingâ€ by interlocutors in public and private institutions. This dissertation examines this disjuncture between competing models of â€œbeing a correct personâ€ by turning to an analysis of moral and ethical codes. Whereas from an institutional perspective such marginal spaces were morally and ethically untenable, I found everyday activities aimed at â€œgetting byâ€ consolidated into routines that progressively engendered a social world of special value to people bearing the brunt of migrant â€œillegality.â€ To explore the moral and ethical codes emergent in the interstices of laws and policies, I suggest the term outpost to designate a place that is politically and legally tenuous but of special value to working class non-citizens struggling to remain in Spain and sustain a sense of self within the context of structural violence. The outpost makes possible ways of being and belonging that transverse state borders.