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Whitaker Ideas Forum: Discounting the Displaced: Examining Hungary’s Denial of Human Security for Migrants, Asylum Seekers and Refugees

March 27, 2019 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Speaker(s): Valerie Ledwith

Affiliation: Population and Migration

Organised by: Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change, NUI Galway

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The summer of 2016 saw an unprecedented increase in the number of arrivals of displaced people to Europe – individuals seeking refuge from civil war, drought, political instability and violence. Many who completed the journey were met with indifference, and in some places outright hostility, to their suffering and request for asylum and refuge. While the securitization of Europe’s Mediterranean maritime borders became central to the discursive production of the so called migrant crisis, the land borders of ‘Fortress Europe’ were also strengthened. Specifically, the borders of Balkan and Eastern European countries, frontiers previously disavowed in the name of European free travel, were systematically resurrected in the name of pan-European ‘security’. The core concern of this research is to render visible the deeply marginalized experiences of those subjected to the full force of European securitization in response to the migrant crisis. Hungary provides a particularly illustrative example of how this became operationalised through a discourse of risk management used to justify the biopolitical population management of non-citizens through militarized border control and expulsion. The research was conducted in Budapest, the Hungarian capital, and Bicske, a small town roughly 40 kilometres from Budapest, which housed an open camp for asylum seekers. The evidence that emerged from the semi-structured interviews was critically deconstructed to render visible the silenced, hidden narratives beneath the securitization apparatus associated with Hungary’s rejection of its responsibility to asylum seekers and refugees. Three a priori themes – orientalism, securitization and voice were identified at the beginning of the coding process. This expanded to include population management, and the theme of voice became more clearly thematised as exclusion and advocacy. These themes are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they overlap and underpin each other in ways that enable the systematic silencing of the voices of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees within Hungary’s securitization apparatus, both at the border and within.

This is one of a series of seminars in the Whitaker Ideas Forum. Valerie will be representing the Population and Migration research cluster.










The Whitaker Ideas Forum is a weekly seminar, running Wednesday’s throughout the semester from 1:00pm-2:00pm in CA110. It provides the opportunity for members of the Institute to showcase their research. The result are presentations that highlight the diversity of the research being undertaken, while allowing for an opportunity to engage in discussions and, sometimes, collaboration with attendees. Below, you will find a list of this semester’s seminars, please click the title for more information on that seminar.

Date Presenter Seminar Topic Whitaker

Research Cluster

23 January Eoin Daly Popular Sovereignty after Brexit Conflict, Humanitarianism and Security
30 January Tom Gillespie Rising waters and falling prices: The effects of flood risk on the Irish housing market SEMRU
6 February Sinead Mellett Farmers perception of climate change in Ireland Innovation and Structural Change
13 February Eimear Heaslip Learning from Living Labs: Experiences from the field Environment, Development and Sustainability
20 February Lorraine D’Arcy Spatial Planning, Urban Design, Transport and Human Health – Much more than footpaths and cycleways Social Sciences Research Centre
27 February Luke McGrath Natural capital accounting for Ireland through boom and bust: Genuine Savings 1990-2016 SEMRU
6 March Dmitry Brychkov Systems Social Marketing Approach to Upscale Galway Cycling System Applied Systems Thinking
13 March Eoin Cullina A study of the use of crowdsourcing by research funding agencies in call processes Agile and Open Innovation (LERO)
20 March Aristides Vara Horna Domestic Violence and Businesses: Consequences and Responses in Global South Gender and Public Policy
27 March Valerie Ledwith Discounting the Displaced: Examining Hungary’s Denial of Human Security for Migrants, Asylum Seekers and Refugees


Population and Migration