The suppression of welcome
One way to interpret the organisation of refugee welcome in Europe is by thinking about the tension between the official response and the grassroots response to the events. This tension has evolved in different ways in different countries, but in general it is possible to distinguish between a bureaucratic tendency to abstract welcome into a specific problem or policy domain, and a different, often opposite, tendency to welcome in spontaneous, solidaristic and autonomous ways. Starting from the premise that welcome necessarily entails more than simply permitting entry and is inherently emotional and relational, this lecture explores a series of questions. How can genuine, spontaneous welcome be preserved under the pressure of statist and nationalistic logics and demands? How can we hold onto welcome as something meaningful when it seems to be under attack from not only right-wing nationalists and factions that draw spurious connections between refugees and security threats, but also the very architecture of bureaucracy? What relationship does welcome share with legalistic logics and practices? To what extent can welcomers and welcoming initiatives be supported by international cooperation, global organisational and communication systems, and resource-gathering mechanisms? And what role can research play in improving our understanding of welcome? By raising these questions the lecture aims to initiate a discussion about the nature, practicalities and possible futures of welcome in geography and the social sciences more broadly.
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Copyright (c) 2018 Nick Gill
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