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Rethinking Security in the Age of Migration: Trust and Emancipation in Europe .

Rethinking Security in the Age of Migration

Trust and Emancipation in Europe

By Ali Bilgic

Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2013, 210 pages, $140.00, ISBN 9780415694193.

In recent years, limited legal channels for migrants seeking protection in Europe, predominantly originating from Africa, has been a compelling problem in view of the exceedingly tragic incidents along the Southern sea borders of the EU. Likewise, the perceived security threat in the EU vis-a-vis irregular migration has been gradually problematized. Rethinking Security in the Age of Migration: Trust and Emancipation in Europe tackles the European security dilemma pertaining to irregular migrants pursuing protection in Europe while being perceived as a threat to security. Bilgic specifically looks at the case of irregular migrants coming from Sub-Saharan Africa, who are identified as irregular migrants yet in need of protection. The book contributes to the extant literature on the subject matter by essentially examining 'emancipatory security theory' and the principle of 'trust-building' between receiving communities and irregular migrants. As such, this book is a valuable input to the recent series assembled by Routledge on the global politics of migration, using emancipation theory in the quest for practices that transform perceptions and make both irregular migrants and receiving communities feel 'secure.'

The book is divided into three main parts. The first part deals with the perspective of EU citizens on irregular migration and how the topic is framed as a security issue. This part also depicts specific insecurities faced by irregular migrants. In the second part, the author validly argues that "language" is one of the dimensions of emancipation that should be tackled. Therefore, he claims that it is needed to challenge the existing "conceptual tools provided by traditional approaches to involuntary migration" (p. 37). Instead of referring to them as irregular migrants, Bilgic proposes the term 'protection seeker' for migrants in need of political and economic security. The theoretical framework is established based on the new security dilemma framework of Booth and Wheeler. Bilgic presents how the concept of 'trust-learning' (as an alternative to exclusion or fear) is operationalized in emancipatory security analysis. The second part lastly focuses on the specific case of the European migration security dilemma. The empirical part is mainly dealt with in the third part, focusing on the case of migration from Sub-Saharan Africa. The author expresses that within the EU, despite the more inclusive tone of the first annual programme on justice and home affairs adopted in Tampere in 1999, protection-seekers from Sub Saharan Africa have been mainly considered as posing a "threat" to the security of EU citizens in its successor Hague programme adopted in 2004. As opposed to the prevailing security understandings in the EU, the book seeks to justifiably demonstrate that policies based on fatalistic logic, which characterizes migrants in need of protection "as a risk or threat," have failed to securitize both EU citizens and irregular migrants. Bilgic particularly challenges the conventional stress on reinforcing border controls and the securitization of EU borders via 'externalization' and argues that the attempts to create a "buffer zone" have failed to solve the problem of irregular migratory movements from Sub-Saharan Africa with the aim of reaching European countries.

A primary strength of the author's argumentation is that it offers an alternative point of view regarding how Europe should look at its existing irregular migration "problem." The proposed alternative is the 'transcender' logic that points towards building trust between EU citizens and irregular "protection seekers," In the words of the author, "trust-learning ... reveals an alternative choice which paves an alternative path for individuals to think about and practice security. Instead of rejecting it as utopian or native, trust learning deserves more academic analysis" (p. 161). Bilgic suggests that trust learning is not only a normatively preferable alternative to fatalistic logic, but is also in the interest of receiving communities. The book broadly puts forward trust-learning practices at four levels: global, intergovernmental, EU level, and societal level. The author's analysis mainly focuses on the latter two areas. As for EU level practices, the main focus is on the European Commission, the Council of the EU, and the EU member states. Due to the increased competences of the European Parliament (EP) with the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and its traditional 'balanced' approach concerning migration, it would have been worthwhile to look into the possible role and involvement of the EP. Although the argument is consistent and well-constructed using a distinctive analytical approach, a stronger engagement in policy suggestions could have been more compelling.

While at times the book's theoretical parts become intense and complicated, its thorough evaluation could be very useful for students of security studies and international relations. It would, however, be more suitable at postgraduate and faculty level for the purposes of familiarizing oneself with the emancipatory approach and its application to the issue of irregular migration policy. In addition, practitioners and policy-makers working on international migration policies could find the book valuable, due to its constructive engagement with policy directions.
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Author:Tabur, Canan Ezel
Publication:Insight Turkey
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 22, 2015
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