Law shapes people's decisions to stay, move, or settle. Institutions interpret international treaties and domestic legislation producing dynamic categories of deserving and undeserving migrants. Transnational families use, avoid or subvert this law to facilitate migration and maintain kinship.
Law and routine legal practice fundamentally shape people's attitudes towards staying in a country, their choices about moving overseas, and their options for settling abroad. Individual migrants' interactions with bureaucrats, lawyers, advocacy organizations, and judges produce dynamic categories of deserving and undeserving migrants. The resulting legal statuses create, reunite or break transnational families, reconfiguring kin relations across borders. This panel will bring together empirical research on the impact that family, citizenship and immigration, criminal, and human rights and refugee law has on family ties within differently positioned transnational families. Research sites might include CSOs, lawyers, government bureaucracies and families in any transnational context. We are interested in research focusing on either privileged or disadvantaged transnational family members; intersectional analyses of the legal production of categories of deserving and undeserving migrant kin; and critical enquiries into the concept of the transnational family. Papers could discuss: How migrants' sources and levels of legal knowledge shape their use, avoidance or subversion of the law; The "legal work" required to maintain family ties across borders; The impact of international human rights law (eg. the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child) in lived experiences of attempting to reunite and settle; The role of law breaking in sustaining the transnational family; When law allowing or preventing migration contributes to power relations within transnational families; The successes and failures of lobbying towards changing legal categorisations relevant to transnational families; How transnational families' experiences reflect, or do not, reflect political and public discourse about them.