Promotionsprogramm "Transformationsprozesse in Europäischen Gesellschaften"

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Miriam Gutekunst



Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
Institute of European Ethnology
Oettingenstr. 67
80538 Munich

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Dissertation Project

Migration through marriage: Negotiations at Europe's borders

According to Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, marriage and family life are two rights protected by society and the state. As part of the European Border Regime, this should entail that “third country nationals” married to a citizen of the European Union have the right to enter the Schengen area. However, European states also intend to simultaneously regulate migration. During the last couple of years immigration conditions for people from “third countries with visa requirements” have become more restrictive and one can observe that the external borders of the EU are subject to a tight migration management. The same applies to migration through marriage, which is the main legal mode of entry to the European Union and at the same time classified as “inefficient” migration compared to labor or even high-skilled migration. That is why certain member states of the EU specifically try to control this migration form and enact rules which spouses have to fulfil in order to be granted an entry and stay permit. Consequently citizens from “third countries with visa requirement” have to overcome different obstacles before they get the permission to enter the EU in order to join a partner. These range from high costs for documents and obligatory journeys to the governmental offices, to required language certificates (only for certain countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain, France and Austria) up to verifications of genuine marriages, mainly through the embassies outside the European borders but also through authorities within the EU member states.

This dissertation project deals with this specific route to Europe – migration through marriage – and the question of how and why different actors, institutions, discourses and practices are governing this migration form. The research interest is as follows: Which discourses, politics and power relations structure the border regime governing migration through marriage? How are they implemented and mediated within the involved institutions? How do the different actors (e.g. employees of the institutions or migrants) perceive, modify and negotiate these norms, categorizations and requirements? Which cases of conflict and resistant strategies arise, and why?

The methodological approach of this dissertation is the empirical-inductive research design of the ethnographic border regime analysis, developed by Sabine Hess, Vassilis Tsianos and the Transit Migration Research Group and influenced by concepts like “studying through” (Shore/Wright), “tracing and tracking” and “multi-sited ethnography” (Marcus). The idea is to understand the Border Regime as an ensemble of different actors, practices and knowledge-power-complexes, where border and regulations are contested and negotiated. For this research project this entails conducting ethnographic research in institutions, which are part of the border regime, while at the same time accompanying people through the whole procedure of migration through marriage.

The case for this transnational study is Morocco and Germany, which implies certain specific socio-historical constellations as well as racialized discourses. This field shows how laws, power structures and politics influence the everyday life and individual situations of many people; as well as how in a globalized world an increasing mobility comes along with the creation and consolidation of borders.

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Irene Götz & Prof. Dr. Sabine Hess