The Never-Ending Journey? Exclusive jurisdictions and migrant mobility in Europe

Alexandria Innes

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Migrant journeys are often conceived as linear movement from a sending country to a receiving country. However, recent work suggests that the notion of linear migrant journeys is a misrepresentation. I argue that European regulations that standardize immigration policy around a common goal of “burden-sharing” such as the Dublin II Regulation interact with the journeys of migrants to create paths that are not linear, circular or guided solely by intent. Rather migrant journeys can be conceived as a series of negotiations with state policies that shape experiences, choices and destinations through constructions of illegality. Mobility becomes an on-going condition rather than a temporary one. Borders then are reproduced as phenomenological rather than physical. I illustrate my argument through an ethnographic case study of a Sudanese man seeking to join his wife and child who had filed an asylum application in France. He interacts with the borders of Europe throughout his journey; however, as he becomes known as an undocumented migrant he moves further from the possibility of entering Europe with immigration status despite being within the territorial boundaries. Conversely, as his physical proximity to Europe increases and is established, his legal proximity decreases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500-513
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Contemporary European Studies
Issue number4
Early online date13 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • migration
  • borders
  • Europe
  • Dublin Regulation
  • asylum-seeker

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