The underrated premium of territorial arrival
in The shifting border
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At the outset of his response to Ayelet Shachar, Jakob Huber observes that political theorists usually ask two kinds of questions when it comes to issues of refugees and asylum: who should be granted refugee status and how the burdens of refugee protection should be distributed among states. Shachar’s essay, by contrast, presents a third puzzle: does it matter from where refugees seek protection. Noting that Shachar herself is drawn to a negative conclusion, Huber makes the contrary case, building on Kant’s conception of cosmopolitan right (Weltbürgerrecht) in order to defend a right of safe passage. He begins by arguing that our answer to the shifting-border phenomenon is contingent on a deeper question concerning the relation between humanitarian claim-making and territorial presence. He then turns to a related interpretive puzzle. Against the widespread “natural law” reading, he puts forward an interpretation that characterizes cosmopolitan mobility as a form of political agency. This allows him to defend a right of safe passage as part and expressive of a broader shift aimed at acknowledging the choice and the voice of refugees. Huber concludes by suggesting that conceiving of mobility as a form of agency invites us to reframe migration as a whole and see it less as a problem than as a regular part of the human condition.

The shifting border

Legal cartographies of migration and mobility: Ayelet Shachar in dialogue

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