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Arne Worm: Migrantized Biographies. Reconstructing Life-Stories and Life-Histories as a Reflexive Approach in Migration Research. [Abstract]

The social category of migrants has been marked by state policies of bordering and “managing migration,” powerful discourses on social groupings, and global, regional, and local conflicts around participation and exclusion. The complexity of this category has been emphasized by critical approaches in the fields of migration research that have been crucial in de-essentializing it. In this article, I will discuss how, as a processual, comparative, and case-oriented approach, biographical research might contribute to more reflexive, Global Sociology-oriented migration research by empirically reconstructing migrantization (turning movements into migration and turning mobile people into migrants) as a multilayered and complex process. In doing so, I will present empirical findings from the research project “Biographies of migrants from Syria and West Africa in Brazil and in Germany: processes of inclusion and participation in the context of so-called irregular migration.” These findings reveal the different ways in which members of migrant groupings present themselves and their migration trajectories, divided into an “individualized type” and a “we-group-oriented type.” This leads me to demonstrate the need to reconstruct mechanisms of migration-related boundary-making from a processual perspective in order to understand migrantized people’s positions and positioning practices within asymmetric balances of power, as well as the overlapping processes that generate both movements and mobilities.

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