Lay summary

Europe’s borders and border control practices have undergone profound change in recent years. Since 1985, the Schengen/ Dublin Agreements have become the main pillar of the European asylum and migration policy. Organisations as Frontex, the ICMPD, EASO, and many others illustrate on the institutional level this Europeanization. Although not part of the EU, Switzerland is engaged in many of these organizations. This emerging European border regime has led to new forms of border control practices, aiming at the effective control or “management” of undocumented migration. These border control practices are no longer restricted to the proper geo-politcal border, but relocated and deterritorialised. Nonetheless, undocumented migration towards Europe persists: Migrants as mobile subjects continue to cross EU’s external borders.

Subproject A analyses externalised border control practices and undocumented migrants’ mobility practices with special emphasis on the issue of the circulation of knowledge amongst migrants as well as amongst border institutions. Multi sited fieldwork focuses on important hubs in the transnational migratory space between North Africa (especially Tunisia), Southern Europe and Switzerland.

Subproject B analyses, how undocumented migrants deal with internalised border control practices: Camps for rejected asylum seekers in Switzerland can be read as border zones within the state. Typically situated in scarcely populated rural areas at the geographical periphery and far away from cities, they are places out of (social) space. This subproject asks how power relations are inscribed in everyday interactions between officials (e.g. police, migration officers, social workers) and rejected asylum seekers housed in these camps.

The research of subproject C focuses on the persisting permeability of the border in the European border regime: Examining seasonal labour migration of undocumented migrants from Eastern and South-eastern Europe in the agricultural sector of Switzerland, the project reveals that undocumented migration is governed in complex ways rather than simply combated.

The multi-perspective approach allows to grasp the complexity of the European border regime. It provides in theory and empirical data new insights into the interdependencies between undocumented migrants’ transnational social spaces and border control practices.