Warehousing asylum seekers: The logistification of reception  

This article employs the analytical perspective of logistics to explore a key, yet quite overlooked, aspect of the functioning of the EU border regime: the reception and associated territorial distribution of newly arrived asylum seekers. Drawing on qualitative data collected at the height of the ‘refugee reception crisis’ in multiple contexts in Italy and Sweden, the article shows how reception is undergoing a process of ‘logistification’. In this process, organisational and logistical concerns prevail over the care for those who are assisted, and reception is turned into a logistical matter of moving and accommodating asylum seekers. Crucial to this process of ‘logistification’ is the warehousing of asylum seekers – an art of government that seeks to objectify asylum seekers through their depersonalisation, victimisation and (im)mobilisation. The article argues that the ‘logistification’ of reception not only has dehumanising effects on asylum seekers, but also exposes the attempt to make profit out their management and transfer. This creates the conditions for the development of a reception industry in which the very presence of asylum seekers is valorised for the profit of a whole range of actors who ensure the reproduction, transfer, knowledge and control of those hosted in reception facilities.

Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Vol 40, Issue 1, 2022