Research event

Subjection and Subjectivation: Migrants Navigating Legal Regimes

A presentation by Nora Markard and Fabian Endemann (University of Münster). This event is part of the Fundamental Rights Research Colloquium hosted by the Centre for Fundamental Rights.

Migrants move in an environment of overlapping and fragmented legal borderlands, with European states largely seeking to use this fragmented landscape to keep migrants away. What could a fundamental and transformative critique look like? While an ontological critique of legal regimes is well-suited to identifying implicit repressive logics, it obscures the agency of migrant subjects. We therefore propose an agenda for a critique that reflects on both the dimension of subjection and of subjectivation.

Looking at the ways in which migrants are subjected to legal regimes reveals the complexity of regime interplays, institutional practices, and implicit ontologies of law that marginalise migrants and lead to “legal black holes” and zones of rightlessness, or a-legality. Turning to the process of subjectivation, it can be seen that migrants shape their legal environment through individual and collective practices of negotiation, dissent and contestation that invoke and transcend legal regimes. This allows us to examine how through their practices, non-state actors can co-construct the political and social reality of the law, strategically navigate legal regimes, and negotiate the terms of their legal subjectivation.

Nora Markard is Professor for International Public Law and Human Rights at the University of Münster. Her research focuses on migration law, fundamental rights, and legal gender studies. She studied law in Berlin and Paris, obtained an MA at King's College London, and was a visiting fellow at the University of Michigan and Columbia Law School. Her PhD thesis on war refugees received the Humboldt prize. Nora is a co-founder of the Humboldt Law Clinic Fundamental and Human Rights and of the Refugee Law Clinic Hamburg, of which she was the Director in 2015-19, while a junior professor at the University of Hamburg. She is also vice president of the Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte, a strategic litigation NGO. 

Fabian Endemann is a research assistant at the Chair of International Law and International Human Rights Protection at the University of Münster (Prof. Dr. Nora Markard). His research focuses on migration law, legal theory and social philosophy. He studied law in Hamburg and Dublin and is studying cultural studies with a focus on philosophy at the University of Hagen. From 2016-2019 he worked as a volunteer legal advisor at the Clinic for Refugee Law in Hamburg.