The Real Appearance of the Economic/Political Binary: Claiming Asylum in Bulgaria


  • Raia Apostolova Central European University

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The paper examines the distinction between ‘economic’ migrants and ‘genuine refugees’. I argue that the economic/political migrant binary belongs to a particular ideological presupposition which is present in classic economic liberalism. In migratory systems, this ideology construes the ‘economic’ and the ‘political’ vis-à-vis violence and lays the ground for subject differentiation. This logic, furthermore, imposes itself in the migratory system and its empirical reality (e.g. detention and reception centres). The struggles that we witness at borders and detention centres attempt to disintegrate definitions of what constitutes violence. The struggles against the imposed categories take place at two interconnected levels: at the border and in the repositioning of migrants from detention to reception centres. I empirically trace these levels within the practice of the asylum-system in Bulgaria.

Author Biography

Raia Apostolova, Central European University

Raia Apostolova is a PhD candidate in the Sociology and Social Anthropology department at the Central European University in Budapest. She engages with the historical and theoretical interaction between migratory categories in late capitalism and the political/economic migrant dichotomy in liberal democracies.




How to Cite

Apostolova, R. 2016. The Real Appearance of the Economic/Political Binary: Claiming Asylum in Bulgaria. Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics. 2, 4 (Dec. 2016). DOI:



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