The Transparency/Opacity Conundrum: Locating Dutch Deportation Regimes at Schiphol Detention Center
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Airports are often regarded as sites of transition, and thus devoid of meaning. This view obscures various articulations of power and exclusionary practices involved in border and migration management. I posit that one very vital site that exist in this obscurity is Schiphol airport’s immigration detention center. On facing several blocks in communication and inaccessibility of information I give a reflexive account of employing the feminist ethic of ‘sticking with’ failure, marking this as a feature of the site of inquiry. Using scavenger methodology (Halberstam 1998), I read visual, digital, autoethnographic and interview content for Dutch self-representative narratives that inform contemporary organization of power. Utilizing the notion of white innocence (Wekker 2016), I argue that these representations are premised on migrant exclusion which is bolstered by a cultural denial of histories of racism and colonization. I consider the implications of excluding the presence of a detention center in Schiphol airport’s self-representation and trace my search for the Schipholbrand monument as a haunting reminder of the history of immigration detention at the airport. Through the informational video by the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Defence, Immigration detention in the Netherlands (2019) I observe that there are visual contradictions in the self-representative portrayals of logical objectivity and legality. The absenting of the centrality of airports, or what I call the transparency/opacity conundrum, made evident through the process of asylum at Schiphol cloaks the deportation regimes that inform immigration detention and deportation in the Netherlands.