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Ethnographic Study of the Policing of Internal Borders in the Netherlands: Synergies Between Criminology and Anthropology

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 54 Issue: 5 Dated: September 2014 Pages: 831-848
Paul Mutsaers
Date Published
September 2014
18 pages
This study documents a concerted effort to marginalize migrants in the Netherlands by denying them customary and basic rights accorded legal residents, and it proposes a synthesis of anthropological and criminological thinking in the development of humane policies toward migrants in the Netherlands.
Policies toward migrants in the Netherlands are enforced by a network of Dutch organizations, such that migrants are regularly confronted by a range of state and non-state actors as they attempt to have their daily needs met. The fact that many rights do not accrue to undocumented migrants in the Netherlands means that they become a marginalized and vulnerable population that has difficulty accessing the services and protections taken for granted by legal residents. Entitlement to public services (social security, housing, health care etc.) and access to societal institutions (e.g., the labor market or public education) are severely restricted for undocumented migrants. Detention for immigration offenses in the Netherlands has no fixed duration, with detention up to 18 months regularly occurring. In developing policies toward migrants, the author favors a synthesis of anthropological and criminological perspectives. Traditionally, anthropologists have applied research instruments and conceptual tools in determining how the broader processes of marginalization, abjection, and disconnection become operational in a society; and they are experienced in documenting the daily lives of people under forms of physical and emotional harm. Criminologists and other sociological scholars, on the other hand, are concerned about the structure of order imposed under various legal instruments that define the benefits and protections of a particular society. Anthropologists in league with criminologists are most likely to forge policies that identify current marginalization and harms experienced by migrants and address them through humane laws that both protect and serve all within the borders that define the Netherlands. 56 references