Presentation on the politics of bordering in the Netherlands


What is the Participation Declaration, and what does it tell us about refugee reception in the Dutch municipalities? In February 2019, Barbara Oomen and Emma Leenders presented a paper titled ‘Symbolic laws, street-level actors: Everyday bordering in Dutch Participation Declaration workshops’ at the Migration Policy Workshop of the European University Institute. The paper argues how important it is to unpack the notion of ‘local government’ to understand the assemblage of actors involved in shaping local migration policies. It also draws attention to the role of individuals in shaping understandings of rights and responsibilities and the balance between in- and exclusion, the welcoming and othering at the local level. Finally, it argues that the Participation Workshops, which certain newcomers have to follow before they sign a declaration stating that they will respect “Dutch Values” might be a highly symbolic piece of legislation in national politics, but that the local workshops focus more on practical aspects of living in the Netherlands, like when to put out the garbage. This is in line with the ‘local pragmatist’ thesis, often put forward in research on the local turn in migration management. The article will be published in a book titled “The Politics of Bordering, the Bordering of Politics’, by Maurizio Ambrosini, Manlio Cinalli and David Jacobson.