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The EU, Migration and Border Governance


From the masculinisation of sovereignty to the rise of informal law

Migration remains at the top of the political agenda across the European Union. Although the EU’s migration law-making competences are limited, migration is one of the most dynamic policy domains. During this event we explore the EU’s formal and informal migration and border policies.

EU migration law has developed alongside a complex set of informal tools which are not the product of established institutional processes, but which are capable of having real effects on individuals and their legal and physical status.

On the one hand, migrants are produced as people to be pitied, rescued, and saved. On the other hand, they are feared, despised, and left to die. Ali Bilgic will explore these ambivalences questioning the ways in which sovereignty as a gendered institution is reproduced through affective border performances. He will argue that the circulation of discourses that aims to invoke certain emotions in domestic and international audiences legitimises not only (sometimes violent) border practices but also redefines the relationship between masculinities and sovereign authority as a compassionate warrior. Paul James Cardwell will explore how the ‘formal’ and the ‘informal’ come together which is paramount for the lived experience of migrants and the protection of their human rights.



Ali Bilgic is a Reader in International Relations and Security at Loughborough University and served as the 2017-19 Prince Claus Chair (PCC) in Development and Equity at the International Institute of Social Studies of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. His research is on migration and human security.

Paul James Cardwell is Professor in Law at the University of Strathclyde and previously worked at the University of Sheffield. His research is on European Union external relations and law with a special focus on migration and democracy promotion.

Chair: Hanna L. Muehlenhoff

Discussant: Beste İşleyen

Organisers: Dimitris Bouris and Hanna L. Muehlenhoff