Conférence IMISCOE 2022 (29 juin – 1er Juillet)
(Oslo, format hybride)
Panel: “Death in the Context of Migration: Negotiating Policies, Practices and Identities”
Fri July 1, 13:00 – 14:30, Session #249 panel | SC Older Migrants
chair Félicien de Heusch, University of Liège
chair Rachid OULAHAL, La Reunion University, DIRE research center, French Collaborative Institute on Migration (CI Migration)
Since the 2000s, the issue of death in the context of migration has received increasing media, political and scholarly attention worldwide (i.e. Mediterranean shores, USA-Mexico border, etc.). In immigration countries, social scientists have shown that ensuring a ‛good death’ is a major concern for migrant communities and family networks. On the one hand, the transnational practice of body repatriation is a response to this preoccupation. On the other hand, long-term migration also leads to questions regarding burial decisions, locations and modalities in the country of residence. For instance, Muslims plots were created in many European cemeteries, while homeland diaspora policies also deal, sometimes, with body repatriation. Migrants’ death thus raises policy and practical issues, while also potentially affecting the next generations both at the identity and community level. As death management in migration is costly and complex, it led to the emergence of market niches in which entrepreneurs target migrants and their needs. These actors negotiate a series of practical, bureaucratic and legal issues within death management, sometimes in collaboration, other times in conflict. As it jeopardizes collective identity, death represents the last moment for social protection: whether familiar, ethnic, religious or national, it crystalizes the competition for moral authorities, especially in exceptional times such as the Covid-19 pandemic. The aim of this panel is to address the redefinitions over time of death in migration contexts, focusing on the negotiation and interplay of identities, rituals, community organizations, markets and home and host state rationalities.
PAPER #1 Death in Migration: bodies, borders and African asylum seekers in Israel
AUTHOR(S) Lisa Anteby-Yemini (IDEMEC, Aix-Marseille University)
ABSTRACT This paper will look, among the Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel, at the management of death in a country of transit, the destiny and the circulation of the bodies of the deceased, and the differences between burial in exile or post-mortem repatriation to the country of origin. This research is situated in the framework of a growing anthropological literature on death in migration, that looks at ritual re-workings (“bricolage”) of funerary rituals in host countries, religious, social, and legal constraints of burial “far from home” and the “politicization” of cemeteries in Europe, as well as post-mortem return to the native country. Yet little research is being conducted in Middle-Eastern or North African countries, or in Israel for that case. We will endeavor to understand how Sudanese and Eritreans enact a “transnational ritual management” of death, while at the same time revealing an economy of death that reactivates links with the country of origin and the diaspora, and also reconfigures relations with the host society. We will evoke the migrants who died on the migration routes to Israel (Sinai desert, Egyptian-Israeli border), often with no burial ground and for whom death rituals have not been accomplished. The increasing research on the management of death at the borders of the European Union, identification of anonymous deceased migrants and their burial in European cemeteries raise similar issues in the Israeli context.
PAPER #2 The Transnational Afterlives of European Muslims
AUTHOR(S) Yumna Masarwa (American College of the Mediterranean) Osman Balkan (Swarthmore College)
ABSTRACT How do European Muslims navigate death and burial in countries where they face systematic barriers to political inclusion? This article investigates the complex negotiations surrounding end-of-life decisions for Muslim communities in France and Germany. Drawing on multi-sited ethnographic research among Algerian and Turkish diasporas in Marseille and Berlin, it illustrates how burial decisions reflect divergent ideas about citizenship, belonging, and identity. While some Muslims are interred in local cemeteries, many more are repatriated out of Europe to be laid in ancestral soils in countries of origin. Through interviews with Muslim death-care workers and community members holding repatriation insurance, along with close readings of informational literature produced by Islamic civil society organizations in France and Germany, we theorize the significance and symbolic value that such posthumous journeys carry in diasporic settings. The Muslim corpse, we argue, embodies a range of overlapping desires, experiences, and expectations connected to histories of migration, settlement, and return, as well as attitudes towards death and beliefs about the afterlife. Consequently, it offers a compelling window into the transnational afterlives of empire and migration.
PAPER #3 The Risk of Death during the Migratory Journey : between political intentionality and psychological impacts.
AUTHOR(S) Christina Alexopoulos de Girard (BePsyLab, University of Angers) Rachid Oulahal (DIRE, University of La Réunion)
ABSTRACT The dissuasive immigration policies of the European Union and the United States make the migratory journey extremely perilous for the lives, physical and mental health of people in exile. These practices can be psychologically and physically devastating. When legal, these practices institute an absence of alternatives and force people to embark upon perilous paths. They expose migrants to being received in conditions of extreme precariousness (indecency or absence of housing, inadequate medical care, etc.) and being subjected to forced and idle waiting due to long administrative procedures and violent practices. The accumulation of forms of mental and physical violence against people forced to flee their country forges a series of representations of death that is ubiquitous in the imaginary of immigration amongst the actors and their groups of belonging or reference. After having explored the political intentions behind deadly dissuasive practices and their impact on those immigrants, the paper discusses the topic of death as a subjective experience for people and
their families. Hence this paper aims to examine death both as a prospect of life, then, as an actual reality for a member of the group, especially for those dying without identification. The anguish of death is therefore amplified by the perspective of disappearing without leaving any trace and without benefiting from the rites that accompany significant moments of existence. The political intentionality of destruction of the subject culminates in the subject’s symbolic murder.
PAPER #4 Negotiating funeral visibility in migration. About Tajik burials in Russia. AUTHOR(S) Juliette Cleuziou (MCF, University Lumière Lyon 2)
ABSTRACT The aim of this presentation is to shed light on the political interplay between visibility and discretion of Tajik migrants in Russian cities, through the lens of funerary rituals and burials. Some migrant-supporting organizations organize the repatriation of their fellow citizens’ bodies when they decease in Russia, they may also promote burials on site, both to migrants and to local authorities. To migrants, by promoting Islamic values of burial in a very short temporality on the site of death; to local authorities, by enhancing the moral dimension of the dead’s dignity as well as the possible funeral discretion of Muslim plots and cemeteries. These organizations mediate relations between two places, in Tajikistan and in Russia, but also between two temporalities: the temporality of death, which requires immediate response; the temporality of transnational life, which raises questions about ancestry and rootedness, whether one considers burials on site or repatriation to the homeland. This presentation will explore the contradictions and oppositions of these two temporalities by showing how Tajik community leaders in Russia talk about and deal with the death of Tajik migrants. It will show that these community leaders are in fact preparing for the long-term settlement of migrants in Russia, including ensuring their dignity in death, while Tajik migrants themselves or the Russian authorities see these migratory circulations as temporary. However, in the context of post-colonial relations between Russia and former Soviet republics such as Tajikistan, funerary integration comes at the cost of funerary discretion, if not discrimination.
Discutants: Alistair Hunter (Université de Glasgow), Carolina Kobelinsky (CNRS)
Plus de détails: https://www.imiscoe.org/conference/