Accepted Paper:

"If they accept me, it's good, if not, I will go to another country": fragmented journeys of irregularised migrants in Europe  


Anna Wyss (University of Bern)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses the fragmented journeys of irregularised migrants within the Schengen area. How are their trajectories shaped by aspirations to find a place to stay and what information plays a role in directing these movements?

Paper long abstract:

Despite all the obstacles there are thousands of persons who manage to enter Europe and circumvent the increasingly selective migration control. Many of them are on the move for years, cover long distances and cross several borders in the hope of meeting with their aspirations. Their hopes are held up because of hearing success stories from co-migrants and trajectories are shaped according to such rumours.

The ethnographic study follows migrants on their fragmented journeys within Europe on their search for a "chance". Limited access to legalization often leads to a complex migration pattern that is characterised by the following aspects: 1) durable "transit" across Europe; 2) a high degree of flexibility to respond to suddenly changing conditions, and 3) switching between different legal statuses. The experiences of these migrants show a deep ambivalence between a sense of autonomy, on the one hand, and of profound hope- and powerlessness, on the other.

Given the fact that little is known about these fragmented journeys, this paper provides insights into a highly pertinent migration pattern, the impact of the European migration management on individual migrants as well as the inter-relatedness of the asylum regime and irregular migration in Europe. At the same time these movements are an excellent example to discuss mobility as a resource on the one hand (since it enables migrants to extend their presence in Europe) and as a handicap on the other (since it impedes the building of stable social networks, the planning of the future, etc.).

Panel P144
Navigating migration and asylum regimes