Held at the gates of Europe: barriers to abolishing immigration detention in Turkey

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    By examining how Turkey has strategically leveraged its immigration detention practices in its relationship to the EU, this article draws scholarly attention to the neglected international dimensions of detention policy-making. While narratives of national security bolster the justification for detention of asylum seekers and other migrants, this article focuses on additional roles that Turkey calls on detention to play in its relationship with the European Union. In particular, the article discusses ‘transit migration’ as a policy discourse Turkey has strategically adopted and leveraged to its advantage when dealing with the EU. As form of ‘premature labelling’, this discourse undermines the claims of belonging that foreign nationals labelled as transit migrants have in Turkey. Thus, it provides a narrative for justifying detention expansion. This international dimension of detention policy-making must be taken into account for future discussions around how to curb or abolish the practice at the borders of Europe and elsewhere.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)203-223
    Number of pages21
    JournalCitizenship Studies
    Issue number2
    Early online date22 Dec 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Citizenship Studies on 22/06/2020, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/13621025.2020.1859192

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


    • Detention
    • EU-Turkey relations
    • transit migration
    • Turkey

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Political Science and International Relations


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