Enforced temporariness and skilled migrants' family plans: examining the friction between institutional, biographical and daily timescales

Laura Merla, Sarah Smit

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This paper examines the impact of the legal rhythms and temporalities of migration on the specific temporalities of family life, under conditions of enforced temporariness. It apprehends enforced temporariness as a mode of governance infused with chronopolitics, which - by producing specific experiences of time - deprives migrants of the right/capacity to lead their family lives according to their plans and aspirations. Through a focus on highly qualified third-country nationals holding temporary visas in Belgium, it shows that these experiences of time result from the friction between the institutional timescale of administrative procedures and policies, and migrants' everyday and biographic timescales. Starting from the administrative timescales of highly-skilled migrants, the paper describes the existing Belgian migration legislation, with a focus on administrative procedures. It then explores the specific experiences of time those procedures generate, by highlighting different kinds of friction migrants experience as well as their effects. It presents some of the ways these migrants cope with them, and concludes by highlighting the fruitfulness of applying a friction lens to the study of intersecting timescales.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2020

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