Can a Person be Illegal? Refugees, Migrants and Citizenship in Europe

Photo: Wikimedia Commons


About the book
Download the book
About the Workshop
The conference in the media [in Swedish]

About the book

The fact that the problem of autonomy immediately refers to, is even identified with, the problem of the relation of one subject to another – or to others; the fact that the other or others do not appear there as external obstacles or as a malediction to be suffered, […] but instead as constitutive of the subject, of the problem of the subject and of its possible solution; these facts recall what, after all, was certain from the start […] namely, that human existence is multiple [a plusieurs] and that whatever is said neglecting this presupposition is sheer nonsense.

Cornelius Castoriadis, “Marxism and Revolutionary Theory” (first published in French, 1964-1965) in The Castoriadis Reader, Blackwell 1997, p. 183.

Recalling the French-Greek activist, psychoanalyst and political philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis’ words about other people as possible solutions rather than problems, and, at the same time, evoking both the name and the work of the network No one is illegal, the theme for the 2016 workshop Can a Person be Illegal? Refugees, Migrants and Citizenship in Europe centred on the recent and persistent unsettling events within and on the borders of Europe. In the presentation of the workshop, as in the call for papers and contributions, we asked questions such as: “Are we facing a European union showing itself to be but an association for the already wealthy, the ones who already are safely installed within their citizenship and passports? Or are the political events of recent months – and especially the reactions they have triggered in many different political camps, governmental as well as auto-organised – rather a sign that something fundamental is changing, or at least about to change? A change, perhaps, towards a more profound political and human engagement with the major ideological issues surrounding migration, autonomy and human rights?”

Our idea in the organising committee was to stage a magmatic event, allowing for an explicit friction to occur between different strata of academia, art and activism. In this spirit, we engaged researchers from two international networks: Imaginaires Sociale et Création/Social Imaginaries and Creation, dealing primarily with the legacy and implications of the philosophy of Cornelius Castoriadis, and Lesekreis Cassirers/The Ernst Cassirer reading group, focusing on the philosophy of Ernst Cassirer and its possible developments today; we invited colleagues and friends from Uppsala University, and we asked artists and activists from Belgium, Germany, and Sweden to contribute with their respective takes on our topic.

We would like to thank the Engaging Vulnerability research program ( for generously co-funding this publication.

The conference was held at English Park Campus, Uppsala University.

The conference was held at English Park Campus, Uppsala University.

In what follows, we present contributions that all interact in surprising and rewarding ways. They can be approached as strata within an encompassing whole as well as unique and original works in their own right. So, rather than imposing a thematic structure and organisation we have chosen to present the contributions in authorial alphabetical order (with the exception of the introduction) and through representative and central quotations.

We trust you will find the contributions as thought-provoking, enticing and rewarding as we do.

Alexander Stagnell, Louise Schou Therkildsen & Mats Rosengren (eds.)

Download the book


To download a copy of the book, click on the following link: Can a Person be Illegal? Refugees, Migrants and Citizenship in Europe [PDF, 4,7 MB]

Individual chapters are available at the following page:

Visit the webpage of Uppsala Rhetorical Studies URS/Studia Rhetorica Upsaliensia SRU.

About the Workshop

Can a Person be Illegal? Refugees, Migrants and Citizenship in Europe

19-21 May, Uppsala University, Sweden



12.15 MATS ROSENGREN: Welcome – On academic responsibility, again.

13.15 JEAN LASSÈGUE: The Daoud Affair – On extra-European Secularism, Literature and Migration of Ideas in a Time of Crisis

14.15 PHILIPPE CAUMIÈRES: Closure of the meaning; border of the political

15.15 COFFEE

15.45 FIRAT MAHMUT HACIAHMETOGLU: Non-European European: A novel postcolonial approach to Europe and its Others


18.30 CECILIA PARSBERG: How do you become a successful beggar in Sweden?



FRIDAY MAY 20, ROOM 6-1022

09.00 COFFEE

09.15 EMANUELE PROFUMI (FRENCH): Loi, force et politique. Quand la violence devient norme sociale?

10.15 OLIVIER FRESSARD (FRENCH): L’utopie cosmopolite

11.15 SHARON RIDER: “Little Mr. Satisfaction”: Ortega’s Challenge to European Man

12.15 LUNCH

13.15 ALEXANDER STAGNELL: The Fantasy of Diplomacy


15.15 COFFEE

15.45 SAMIRA MOTAZEDI, FRIDA SANDSTRÖM & MASOUD VATANKHAH: No One is Illegal (Ingen Människa är illegal)

16.45 LOUISE SCHOU THERKILDSEN: Periphery and Borders in European Identity

17.45 SCHELLEKENS & PELEMAN: Inflatable Refugee




09.00 COFFEE

09.15 INGELA NILSSON & OLOF HEILO: The Fragile Borders of Europe

10.15 ANTHONY JOHN LAPPIN: Borders of the Self

11.15 DIMITRIOS IORDANOGLOU & JOHANNES SIAPKAS: Dystopic democracy: the double life of Classical Athens

12.15 LUNCH

13.15 ROBERT APPELBAUM: Citizenship and The Comedy of Errors

14.15 STATHIS GOURGOURIS: The Ill Logic of Fortress Europe

15.15 MATS ROSENGREN Thank you and goodbye!

For abstracts see the downloadable program.


The workshop was co-arranged by the research programme Engaging Vulnerability, the network Social Imaginaries and Creation and the Section for Rhetoric, Department of Literature, Uppsala University.

The organising committee for the 2016 meeting of Social Imaginaries and Creation at Uppsala University, Sweden:

  • Mats Rosengren
  • Alexander Stagnell
  • Louise Therkildsen

All at the Department of Literature, Uppsala University.

The conference in the media [in Swedish]

UNT (20 maj 2016)
“Skulptur att leva sig in i”/”De känner igen sig i skulptur”

Uppsalatidningen (19-25 maj 2016)
“Flyktingar bjuds in att skapa konst”

UNT (19 maj 2016)
“Flykting är uppblåst i Uppsala”

SVT Nyheter/Uppsala (19 maj 2016)
“Möt den uppblåsbara flyktingen i Botan”

SVT Nyheter/Uppsala (13 maj 2016)
“Uppblåsbar flykting besöker stan”