In 2015 more than 1 million refugees and migrants entered Europe largely from conflict-ridden states such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Hungarian government single-handedly decided to stop the migration by building a barbwire wall along the Hungarian-Serb border. Many observers agree that building the fence was primarily a domestic political act to help the Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his party Fidesz to gain the far-right vote in support of his and his party’s re-election. Nonetheless, his landslide victory, predictably won on a populist ticket rallying against migrants and Muslims in April 2018, together with media and NGO reports on the treatment of migrants and refugees seemed to suggest to the outside world that the Hungarians were predominantly right-leaning, anti-migrant people who lack humanitarian compassion and are thus different from other Europeans. As my preliminary findings of exploratory research at the Hungarian-Serb border in summer 2018 suggest, however, the situation is much more nuanced. There is a substantial gap between the border police, local policing organisations, the local border communities, on the one hand, and local and national politicians, and the international media perception of the events and the Hungarian migration/refugee crisis and border security management, on the other. At the theoretical level, this raises a larger issue in security studies: how does securitizing work in practice? Taking securitization practices seriously through focusing on everyday performances of security, this project aims to analyse (1) how communities manage security concerns locally (especially when these concerns are ignored in the national or international spheres); (2) how local security concerns are mobilised elsewhere for political gains; and (3) how mistrust between communities is generated locally, nationally and internationally in order to explain the de-facto re-militarised EU border.
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