Transnationalism from Above and Below: Migration Management and how Migrants Manage (MIGMA)

Led by Jørgen Carling

Aug 2015 – Aug 2019

About the project

Transnationalism from above and below: Migration management and how migrants manage (MIGMA) examines European attempts to return Nigerian migrants, enacting a project of exclusion and excision in the pursuit of governance. The project is led by May-Len Skilbrei at the Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law, University of Oslo, and is funded by the VAM programme of the Research Council of Norway (Welfare, Working Life and Migration). PRIO's work on the project is concentrated to a study of representations of migration and return in Nigerian cultural production (See separate page).


MIGMA will offer a theoretically informed empirical exploration of legal instruments central to the sustainability of current migration management, and explore their effects and efficiency. The aim of the research is to contribute with knowledge relevant to European policy development, by linking migration management to wider circuits of migration and understanding it in a broader comparative framework.


The phrase ‘migration management’ has come to replace ‘immigration control’ and puts a more positive spin on it. Borrowed from the corporate world, the term ‘management’ suggests control and efficiency, and glosses over the multiple conflicts that are often involved, within states, between states, and between states and migrants. Is it possible to manage migrants who prefer to manage their own lives?

Managing rejected Nigerian asylum seekers is particularly challenging, due to a combination of factors including a high prevalence of criminal activity, transnational human trafficking networks, vulnerable victims of human trafficking, high rates of disappearances from reception centres, escalating violent conflict in Nigeria and the refusal of Nigeria to enter into a readmission agreement. Some of these factors are also conducive to the re-migration of returned asylum seekers following their return to Nigeria, undoing Norway’s efforts and increasing costs.

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