'Devushka' and Cigarette: Fluid Migrants across the EU Border Cover Image

'Devushka' and Cigarette: Fluid Migrants across the EU Border
'Devushka' and Cigarette: Fluid Migrants across the EU Border

Author(s): Jakub Grygar
Subject(s): Anthropology
Published by: Ústav etnológie a sociálnej antropológie Slovenskej akadémie vied
Keywords: Europeanization; territoriality; actor-network theory; the EU external border; Poland; Belarus;

Summary/Abstract: This article explores the relationship between cross-border migration, identity of moving objects, changes in their ontology and political practice. Via the ethnography of transborder migration between Poland and Belarus I pursue how both state borders/borders of the EU and migrants are performed and enacted. Methodologically, I use actornetwork theory as it has been modified by the work of John Law, Annemarie Mol, and Susan Star with James Griesemer. Migrations of devushka (a generalization of local transborder petty traders) and cigarettes (representing the commodities most in evidence in the borderland) across the external EU border illustrate the character and power of social networks, which are the very source of identity. From this I develop the discussion of boundary objects, incoherent practices and fluidity in actor-network theory. Analytically, I argue that studying human and non-human migrants as boundary objects reveals how border procedure constructs and makes intelligible a particular relationship between politics, experience and practice at the external EU border. Treating petty traders and transferred commodities as ‘methodologically one object’ therefore has important analytical consequences for how we understand their practical efficacy.

  • Issue Year: 57/2009
  • Issue No: 5
  • Page Range: 546 - 559
  • Page Count: 14
  • Language: English