Invisible Lives: a comparative ethnography of undocumented migration

This research project illuminates ‘invisible lives’ through a comparative qualitative study of undocumented and irregular migration into the European Union. The project gathers a group of regional specialists in order to undertake an investigation of the full process of migration – moving from country of origin, to intermediary points en route, to lives within the EU. It focuses on the way irregular and undocumented migrants navigate a world that works against them, and in whose shadow they hide and reside. In doing so, it allows us to illuminate the many factors that underlie undocumented migration; the social and political positions and processes that shape it, and, not least, the networks that such migrants make use of, develop, and are caught up in. The project, thus, sheds light on new empirical ground as it grants a clear and coherent view from within view to one of the more opaque dimensions of contemporary migration and social life. It is theoretically novel as it illuminates the relation between agents and institutions, figures and formations, via a focus on the structural, social and experiential dimensions of social invisibility: And it is methodologically unique as its research design and methodological setup is attuned to researching illicit formations and vulnerable subjects, adding to our knowledge of how to do qualitative research in difficult circumstance.

The programme is co-financed by The University of Copenhagen, and academically connected to Oxford University, Harvard University and the University of Melbourne. It gathers some of the worlds leading scholars and institutions focussing on undocumented and irregular migrants, and uses the knowledge and relations gained to globally connect and strengthen the Danish research environment on migration and marginality.