'We can do this': Merkel, Migration and the Fantasy of Control

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At the height of the so-called 2015 refugee crisis, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, is thought to have opened the country's borders to a million refugees. She was celebrated as an international leader and the refugees’ savior, while the country was seen as having a welcome culture. Retrospectively, however, her refugee policy is construed as a mistake. Both interpretations agree that Merkel opened the border. Deploying a detailed reading of events, this article asks what political imaginary is invoked through this representation and what its consequences are. It draws out how paying attention to temporality reveals the racialization involved in producing the problem. First, the article sets out the centrality of Merkel and the border opening to accounts of the events, drawing out the temporality of events and its implications. Second, it asks what it means to say that the border was opened, complicating this representation. Finally, it shows how the focus on the border opening invoked a political imaginary marked by a fantasy of control that obscures its own exclusions. Recognizing bordering as about control over the temporality of community alerts us to how the impossible desire to control the future racializes those seeking refuge.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberolaa026
JournalInternational Political Sociology
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2020


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