The European Union and Global Apartheid (European and International Studies, KCL) – NOW FILLED

Contact: Dr Lucia Pradella


Department: European and International Studies

Institution: King’s College London

Project timeline: The research is ongoing and will likely be completed by the end of 2022.

Project duration: Semi-part time (flexible) for a maximum of 13 weeks-equivalent work over a six-month period (mid-September 2021 to March 2022)

Closing date: 31st August 2021

Expertise required: The ideal candidate will have good knowledge of the International Political Economy of migration and critical border studies. They will have very good qualitative research, writing and organizational skills. Knowledge of Arabic language would be preferable.

Project descriptionThis project aims at better understanding the impact of the militarization of the EU borders in the Mediterranean on labour relations in Libya and Italy in the light of the literature on South African and Global Apartheid. Since the late 1970s, the concept of Global Apartheid has come to denote white minority rule in international decision making (Kohler 1978; Makhijiani 1992; Alexander 1994; Bond 2004; Shiva 1992). More recently, some scholars (Kyle & Koslowski 2011l; Besteman 2019; Walia 2020) have used this concept to understand global migration, but without much engagement with theoretical perspectives on Apartheid (Legassick, Hemson, Wolpe, Alexander etc). This project consists of two main parts. (1) First, it traces theoretical debates on Apartheid in relation to the militarization of EU borders in the Mediterranean. The main hypothesis is that, while the plunder of Libyan resources and social insecurity push an increasing number of people to leave Libya, border militarization both traps immigrants in Libya and pushes them towards Europe. If this mechanism ensures the availability of a pool of vulnerable workers in Italy, comparison between Libya and Italy can also encourage immigrants to organise and assert their rights (cf. Pradella and Rad 2017; Pradella and Cillo 2020). (2) Through online, semi-structured interviews with trade-unionists, investigative journalists, labour inspectors, members of NGOs and other associations the project will then seek to assess the impact of the militarization of EU borders (pre- and post-Covid-19 pandemic) on migration journeys, labour conditions and attitudes towards mobilization and organization. The overall goal of this project is to engage Libyan and EU social forces and have an impact on policy debates about these subjects.

Description of work involved: The research assistant will engage in five main tasks. (1) They will provide research assistance to review academic literature on South African and Global Apartheid and the militarization of EU borders. (2) They will support primary research by conducting or helping transcribe interviews. (3) They will help build an international network of scholars and activists with a focus on how the findings of this research can impact on the strategies of trade unions and pro-immigrant civil society groups. This will also imply collaborating in the organisation of a research workshop. (4) They will collaborate in the publication of a report to be published by the Transnational Institute and, potentially, a research article. (5) They will support the development of a standard research grant proposal to ESRC or other funding bodies.

Student benefits: The research assistant will be mentored with respect to key processes in academic professional life: primary research; co-authoring a report and, potentially, a research article; international research network building; academic event organisation and administration. In providing research assistance to support the development of a research grant, the student will gain experience of the application process, and may potentially be a candidate for any subsequently offered research positions.