Association pour l’anthropologie du changement social et du développement
Association for the anthropology of social change and development

Learning Migration Governance

Auteur(s) : Kawar Leila ;

Over the past two decades, legal scholars and social scientists have traced in rich detail the circulation of a policy discourse on “migration and development” across the global South. Nevertheless, in terms of enunciating standards for labor migration, this global conversation has as yet produced primarily soft norms; the international frameworks and compacts developed over the past two decades contain few enforcement mechanisms, and most states remain unwilling to ratify earlier enacted ILO and UN conventions on labor migration. For these reasons, theories of positivist rule-making and coercive compliance are not especially useful for understanding how supra-national norms governing migrant labor are made meaningful.

In recent years, and as part of a trend that extends beyond labor migration standards, international organizations have increasingly embraced alternative models of legal impact: managerial and socialization approaches to international legal compliance, transnational legal process approaches that emphasize the role of national courts, as well as pluralist models of transnational lawmaking that emphasize negotiated agreements among non-state actors. This paper examines empirically how these soft international norms for regulating labor migration are being communicated and disseminated in practice. It does so by focusing on one particular setting in which these norms are made meaningful to policy practitioners, namely training courses in labor migration governance. This expanding field of internationally-sponsored programming aims to instruct civil servants and trade unionists in the global South on how to implement not only existing international labor standards but also recently-enacted multilateral frameworks and guidelines that are relevant to the migration domain.

To understand how these soft international norms for regulating migration are made meaningful in practice, I examine three different types of training courses in labor migration governance. The empirical analysis centers on programs training practitioners in North Africa and Subsaharan Africa, and it interrogates the processes by which knowledge about migrants and migration is interactively assembled in these local settings. In all of these settings, internationally-sponsored programming introduces policy actors in the global South to a common normative corpus of migration-related international labor standards as well as recently-enacted multilateral frameworks and guidelines. Despite the broadly- similar normative content found in migration policy capacity-building programs across these settings, my analysis reveals important differences not only in their affective registers but also in the types of roles these learning communities construct for their participants. This ethnographically-inspired approach directs attention to these performative and experiential dimensions of how transnational development discourse is communicated and received, which remain under-examined in studies of global social policy.


Mot-clé : legal anthropology et migration and development
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Voir le panel Discours, pratiques et outils de la relation migrations/développement : circulations, innovations et résistances au Sud Global / Narratives, practices and tools of the migration-development nexus: circulations, innovations and resistances in the Global South

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