Labels and Categories: ‘Integrating’ Citizens into the Body Politique
In this paper, I try to understand the intersection between ‘integration’ in legal terms, and how ‘non-citizens’ (Anderson, 2013) situate themselves in terms of belonging vis a vis the genealogy of this legal structure that renders individuals at once inside and outside of the normative power that constitutes a body politique. More specifically, how do labor- and forced migrants from former Yugoslavia negotiate ‘integration’ in Switzerland in legal and social terms? Former-Yugoslavs constitute not only a comparatively large number of ‘non-citizens’ in Switzerland. Individuals from-and-with-connections to this community also embody numerous labels and categories of migrant that statistical databases, the media, and legal practices attach to them. Due to, and in an effort to illustrate the fluid character of how labeling and categorizing ‘non-citizens’ affects belonging empirically, this article builds on the theoretical reflections by Rebecca Hamlin, Katy Long and Stephen Castles (Hamlin 2021; Long, 2013; Castles, 2003). Key-findings in this paper illustrate a two-tiered narrative: ‘non-citizens’ maintain their pursuit of not attracting attention to their persona – a strategy that lets individuals disappear within the larger society. At the same time, and in conjunction with the tightening legal practice of belonging formally to the Swiss body politique, interlocutors do not simply acquiesce to the exclusionary legal codes that affect ‘non-citizens’. Instead, interviewees actively construct, and maintain Swiss-(and Europe-)wide connections and networks to better understand the legal and administrative backdrop, but also to actively influence integration governance in Switzerland (and Europe).
This paper is based on a grounded theory approach that builds on ethnographic research conducted during cultural gatherings including movie screenings, music venues, readings, as well as in third spaces such as beauty salons, and online forums since 2019. Additional data stems from repeated in-depth, semi-structured and situational interviews with to date 40 individuals I had met during the above-mentioned social gatherings and other third spaces, as well as further snow-ball sampling. In all, I spoke to 18 males, and 22 females, all of whom had arrived in Switzerland between the 1960s and late 1990s. The project was approved the Human Subjects Committee at the University St.Gallen.
Ethnographic insights and interviews are triangulated with the Wednesday News - For Our Citizens in the World (Vijesnik u Srijedu – Za Naše Gradjane u Svijetu) newspaper series, published between March 24th 1971 and December 31st 1977. I chose this timeframe not only to triangulate interviews and ethnographic research, but also because the number of Yugoslavs in Switzerland had increased from 1’169 individuals to 60’619 – an increase to the power of 51. The 1970s are further characterized by the tightening of labor migration admission in the aftermath of the Schwarzenbach Initiative – a rightwing, populist initiative that sought to curb labor migration significantly. In other words, while I interview interlocutors that had come between the 1960s and late 1990s, I specifically focus on the 1970s for the above reasons, and the 1990s due to the tightening legal restrictions that since characterize integration governance in Switzerland