Theorizing sites and strategies of differential inclusion: unlawful migrant workers in Australia

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In this article, I extend the theoretical concept of differential inclusion, as developed in 2013 by Mezzadra and Neilson, via an empirical examination of the experiences of unlawful migrant workers in Australia and those who employ them. I explore the dynamic and shifting positionality of the unlawful migrant by examining several sites and strategies used to achieve differential inclusion in the Australian context, including migrant worker networks, the workplace and the broader community. My analysis reveals that the nation-state’s effort to exclude and demarcate non-belonging via law and policy is destabilized by the inclusionary bordering practices of both citizens and unlawful non-citizens. My findings point to the importance of criminologists continuing to look beyond the physical border to make sense of the configuration and reconfiguration of belonging. The conceptualization of differential inclusion provided here recognizes that workers and employers utilize diverse strategies and sites which can subvert state exclusionary practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-210
Number of pages17
JournalTheoretical Criminology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Australia
  • differential inclusion
  • exploitation
  • immigration
  • unlawful migrant labour

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