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Journeys from the AbyssThe Holocaust and Forced Migration from the 1880s to the Present$
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Tony Kushner

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786940629

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781786940629.001.0001

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The Ship and the Battle over Migrant ‘Illegality’

The Ship and the Battle over Migrant ‘Illegality’

(p.223) Chapter 4 The Ship and the Battle over Migrant ‘Illegality’
Journeys from the Abyss

Tony Kushner

Liverpool University Press

By utilising Judith Butler’s concept of the politics of the performative, this chapter explores how the concept of migrant illegality developed from the late nineteenth century onwards. It shows how the term ‘illegal immigrant’ was coined by the British authorities in Palestine from 1933 onwards, used to limit the number of Jewish refugees coming to this Mandated territory and how this continued during and after the war. The chapter also utilised Michel Foucault’s work on the sea being a ‘different space’ with the concept of the ship. It shows how the Mediterranean became a battleground between Jewish refugees and the British authorities, most infamously with the case of Exodus 1947. The chapter closes with more recent ‘boat people’ in the same ocean since the 1990s focusing on the Italian island of Lampedusa which has become a borderless border to the European Union in processing refugees from Africa and Asia.

Keywords:   Judith Butler, Politics of the performative, Illegality, Mandate Palestine, Michel Foucault, Different spaces and the ship, Mediterranean, Exodus 1947, Lampedusa, Boat people

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