Migration and border making in Portugal

José Mapril, Ambra Formenti, Francesco Vacchiano, Inês Hasselberg

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Despite its progressive introduction of new forms of mobility-based social classification, Portugal seldom features in border studies literature. Yet, it presents itself as an interesting case on many regards. As with other European cases, the national make-up of the migrant population in Portugal is both the result of the country’s colonial and post-colonial relations and the product of its integration into the EU common space. Yet, its rhetoric, priorities and policies on migration set Portugal apart from its European counterparts.
This special issue brings together a collection of articles on diverse aspects of border-making in Portugal. The articles are the result of an international workshop that took place in Lisbon in 2017, and seek to frame the Portuguese case against the broader backdrop of European and North American border regimes (for a definition, see Berg and Ehin, 2006; Balibar, 2009; Vaughan-Williams, 2009; Tsianos and Karakayali, 2010; Vacchiano, 2013; Casas-Cortes et al., 2015; De Genova, 2016).
The papers reflect on border regimes not as apparatuses of migrants’ exclusion, but as complex mechanisms of ‘differential inclusion’ according to hierarchical principles and social stratification (Mezzadra, 2006; Mezzadra and Neilson, 2013), enforced and contested by multiple actors who operate from a variety of social positions and locations in converging as well as diverging directions. Through this multi-layered and variegated assemblage of procedures, well captured by the Foucaultian notion of dispositif, operations like categorising, sorting, measuring, diagnosing, detaining, deporting – or conversely, deciding to postpone or wholly eschew such actions – become licit, accepted and naturalised. This has been increasingly visible also in Portugal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-272
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Migration and Border Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2019


  • Borders
  • governmentalities
  • immigration
  • Portugal


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