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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: November 2020

17 - Deciphering the Role of (Migration) Law in the Social Construction of ‘Otherness’

from Part V - European Societies, ‘Otherness’, Migration, and the Law


This chapter combines a critical reflection of the approach underlying the contributions to this volume with a forward-looking inspection of research questions for the future. At an analytical level, it discusses how to address the linkage between legal developments and broader debates to distinguish situations of overlap from scenarios of mismatch when legal rules are not influenced by discursive ‘othering’ or may even serve as a counterpoint. From a methodological perspective, this chapter presents different options of how to integrate interdisciplinary impulses into doctrinal analyses by combining the ‘negative’ critique of 'othering' with a ‘positive’ reconstruction of the legal material. Conceptually, we should be careful not to overestimate the role of migration law for ‘othering’ processes, which may reflect broader transformative processes or overestimate the relative (in)significance of migration law for the lived experience. This chapter concludes with an argument that no form of migration control should be equated with ‘othering’ and that we should enquire, rather, to what extent the motives or effects reflect degrading or exclusionary tendencies.

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