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Bo Petersson & Per-Markku Ristilammi, Malmö University

From Bridge to Barrier: Critical Perspectives on the Border Controls between Denmark and Sweden

Name and credentials: 

  • Bo Petersson, Professor, Political Science, Malmö University  
  • Per-Markku Ristilammi, Professor in Ethnology, Dept of Urban Studies, Malmö university

Abstract: In December 2015 the Swedish government decided to impose austere measures in order to stem the influx of refugees over the Öresund bridge. The war in Syria, together with the instability in Afghanistan and Iraq, meant that an unprecedented number of refugees sought to seek asylum in Sweden. What was meant to be an infrastructure designed to foster growth, a virtual growth machine, turned to another form of regulatory machinery. The bridge became part of a biopolitical mechanism driven by state regulation and group affects. When inaugurated 15 years ago, the Bridge was hailed as a commemoration of a new Europe, a regional Europe, with a diminished role for the nation-states.

Now the bridge embodies the return of sovereign territoriality, not in form of the power of the sovereign, but in form of the state configured as a regulatory mechanism of power beyond politics. On an everyday scale the shape-shifting of the state manifests itself in regulatory bodies moving through the train, scanning faces against documents, causing fleeting or permanent affects. Artifacts as fences, yellow vests, digital cameras, passports, infrared cameras in the tunnel become part of a new form of power that reflects, not only the diminishing role of the region, but also the changing role of the state. The paper discusses this development from the general perspectives of biopolitics, securitization and critical border studies, and in doing so it refers to empirical examples identified in contemporary political and media debates, as well as through personal field observations made by the two authors.

Theme: Border-Crossing: Migration, Travel, and Tourism

Earlier Event: June 15
Johan Almer, Högskolan i Skövde
Later Event: June 15
Natia Gokieli, Humboldt University