The Game: or, 'the making of migration' along the Balkan Route

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‘The Game’ is how many refugees describe their attempts to informally travel to Western Europe via the so-called Balkan Route. This article conceptualises The Game as a spatial tactic implemented by refugees as a response to the impossibility of legally entering the EU and as a gray area in the governance of informal migrant mobilities. It does so by engaging with the recent literature on the Balkan Route to analyse how The Game has been performed and ‘managed’ in Serbia, a key ‘buffer state’ along this corridor. Drawing from Tazzioli's work on ‘The Making of Migration’, and in particular on her understanding of refugee forced mobility as a form of ‘migrant management’ on the part of the authorities, this article shows how the ambivalent connotations of The Game reveal the troubling configurations of EU border politics and of its formal and informal geopolitical arrangements. At the same time, it argues that the practices related to The Game ultimately reflect the extraordinary determination of the refugees in creating new itineraries, spatial interstices, invisible networks and ‘holes in the border walls’ that allow them, despite all the difficulties, to challenge such border politics. We conclude by proposing to understand The Game as part of the biopolitics of migration and by suggesting that it represents a powerful manifestation of the condition (and the field of possibility) of thousands of refugees along the Balkan Route today.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102490
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalPolitical Geography
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Balkan Route
  • Camp geographies
  • Serbian refugee camps
  • The Game
  • The making of migration


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