The illegalisation of solidarities towards migrants with irregular status provides critical insights into the limits that EU governments set to the free movement, speech, and action of their citizens and their consequences. Here, the author outlines why and how, in a scenario of illegalisation, solidarities must come to terms with inherent contradictions, because the very nature of these solidarities, in terms of who can perform them, may reproduce specific dynamics of structural inequalities. Particularly questioning who rescues, and who can rescue, and who cannot, implies the acknowledgement that solidarities, and visible resistance, are not always democratic, but instruments of the privileged that reproduce social stratification. By critically engaging in the development of activist criminology, the author argues that the democratisation of solidarities would entail that all individuals have the same possibilities and incur the same risks if confronted with a scenario of illegalisation. But such democratisation is a chimera, meaning that there are social hierarchies of who is allowed to rescue, and who would have too much to lose. This also suggests relevant implications for criminologists who choose not to divorce from a commitment to solidarity activism. In fact, activist criminologists often work ‘at a distance’, dispose of continued access to valuable resources and networks, and make a career based on their activist work. These elements of privilege inevitably provide them with disproportionate power in activist spaces, whose critical acknowledgement is paramount and must be complemented with radical action to progressively work towards a deconstruction of their own incongruencies.
Ferranti, G. (2023), "Power, Agency, and the Politics of Dissention in Activist Spaces: Sea-rescue NGOs' Resistance to Illegalisation and its Contradictions", Canning, V., Martin, G. and Tombs, S. (Ed.) The Emerald International Handbook of Activist Criminology (Emerald Studies in Activist Criminology), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 233-248. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-80262-199-020231016
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