1st Edition

The Long Shadow of the Border Migrants, Brokers and European Border Governance in Africa

    This book delves beyond the spectacular images of African migrants struggling to scale border fences or cross the Mediterranean in unseaworthy rubber dinghies by unpacking the policies and emerging practices that shape contemporary border governance in the expanding EU–African borderlands.

    For decades, Africa has been the scene of a wide range of European interventions aimed at restraining irregularised migration to Europe creating an accelerated moment of control and confinement. Today, the externalisation of Europe’s borders into Africa encompasses agreements on the return of migrants, securitised border operations and projects under the EU’s Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. At a time when safe and legal mobility is limited, and the human, social and political conditions of African migrants are severely challenged, this book emphasises how European efforts are both assisted but also resisted by local actors with agendas of their own. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, the different contributions vividly portray how African lives continue to be shaped by Europe’s desire to contain and govern human mobility and how dominant spatial geopolitics are contested on various levels.

    This book will be of particular value to students and researchers interested in African studies, International Politics, Border Governance, Anthropology, Human Geography and Global Studies. The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of Geopolitics.

    Introduction: Borderwork in the Expanded EU-African Borderlands

    Ida Marie Savio Vammen, Signe Cold-Ravnkilde, and Hans Lucht

    1. Borderwork Creep in West Africa’s Sahel

    Philippe M. Frowd

    2. Intensifications of Border Governance and Defiant Migration Trajectories in Ethiopia

    Tekalign Ayalew Mengiste

    3. Waiting to Move On: Migration, Borderwork and Mobility Economies in Libya

    Marthe Achtnich

    4. En Route to Europe? The Anti-Politics of Deportation from North Africa to Mali

    Almamy Sylla and Signe Marie Cold-Ravnkilde

    5. ‘When Migrants Become Messengers’: Affective Borderwork and Aspiration Management in Senegal

    Ida Marie Savio Vammen

    6. Moral Borderwork: Policies, Policing, and Practices of Migrant Smuggling at the EU-Morocco Border

    Line Richter

    7. Borderwork in the Grey Zone: Everyday Resistance within European Border Control Initiatives in Mali

    Signe Marie Cold-Ravnkilde

    8. The Bioeconomy of Sahel Borders: Informal Practices of Revenue and Data Extraction

    Luca Raineri

    Afterword: Alter-Geographies of Everyday Externalisation: Shattering European Attempts at Policing Mobility?

    Polly Pallister-Wilkins


    Ida Marie Savio Vammen is Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies. Her work focuses on the multi-scale politics of mobility that shape West African migration today. Based on fieldwork in Senegal and Argentina, Vammen examines the human, social and political consequences of Europe’s border externalisation.

    Signe Marie Cold-Ravnkilde is Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies. Her primary areas of research are security, migration and development in Africa. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, Cold-Ravnkilde focuses on conflict, terrorism and borders as well as on transnational security interventions (including the UN, the EU and Western intervening states) in West Africa’s Sahel region.

    Hans Lucht is Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Ghana, Niger, Libya, Italy and Greece, his research focuses on undocumented migration, brokerage and smuggling networks from Africa to Europe via the Sahel and North Africa, and on migrant-sending communities in West Africa.