Chapter 9: Beyond the dichotomy of liberal and illiberal migration governance
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This chapter critically reviews the scholarly debate on how political regimes shape migration governance. It discusses the prominent ‘liberal paradox’ concept that ties expansive immigration policies to liberal democracy, and introduces emerging research on the ‘illiberal paradox’ in autocratic migration governance, as well as on migration policymaking in countries of the ‘Global South’. The chapter argues that research on ‘Western liberal democracies’ and studies on ‘the other side of the coin’ showcase similar structural flaws, as they remain trapped within a binary, essentializing logic that categorizes the world into ‘Global North/Global South’ or ‘democracy/autocracy’. These biases are underpinned by a particular political economy of knowledge production that prevents theory-building across political regimes and political geographies. To open up the scholarly debate, the chapter outlines the pillars of a critical research agenda that deliberately seeks to ‘cross boundaries’ to generate novel perspectives on contemporary migration politics worldwide.

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