Sammanfattning av publikation

Sager, 2011 🔗

Everyday Clandestinity: Experiences on the Margins of Citizenship and Migration Policies

Year: 2011

Type of text: Doctoral dissertation from department faculty of social science, Centre for Gender studies, Lund university

Published by:  Faculty of social sciences, Centre for Gender Studies, Lund University

Language: English

Author: Maja Sager

Pages: 260

Available at:

Short description of text

The dissertation focuses on the experiences of clandestine asylum seekers – rejected asylum seekers who, avoiding deportation continue to stay in Sweden. It focuses on the topic from the point of view of studying how these peoples experiences and their position can be understood in relation to gendered and racialized migration regime, conceptions and practices of citizenship and belonging. The theoretical input of the dissertation is a critical rereading of Swedish migration and gender regimes, as processes that produce clandestinity, and by using feminist and postcolonial theories on citizenship to attempt to approach an conceptualisation of a possible ‘clandestine citizenship ‘.

The writer explores the production of clandestinity both as an everyday experience and as a possible collective political identity ie. the possibilities for clandestine asylum seekers to construct themselves as a collective political identity in the context of Swedish movements for migrants‘ rights and struggles for social change.

The experiences of the informants are discussed from different perspectives: from the labour market, from the asylum process, and from an everyday life characterised by a lack of social rights and limited access to welfare entitlements. It analyses such topics as precarity of migrants in the labour market and experiences of precarity, deportability and gendered processes in the asylum system, clandestinity as identity or political subjectivity.

Most important results

Clandestinity is shown to be a location characterised by exclusion and fragmentation on some levels, but also by limited kinds of collectivity and inclusion on other levels

–       “How the informants‘ positions are constructed in relation to citizenship and labour are constructed at the very crossroads of migration policy, labour market policy and the interplay between the two policy areas. By centring the discussion of the ethnographic material upon the concepts of precarity, belonging and normality, I show some of the ways that migration policy structures the labour market along racial and gender lines. Conversely I will also show how access to a permanent residence permit (and the right to asylum) seems, in part, to be negotiated within the frames of labour market interests. The concepts of precarity, belonging and normality also serve to approach” (30)

–       “The study has provided a critical reading of the Swedish welfare state by taking the experiences of those on the margins as being central to an understanding of gender and migration regimes. It has illuminated the centrality of the position of clandestine asylum seekers in relation to the construction of citizenship and belonging, and has shown how these processes are gendered at the level of symbols, institutions and identities. I have also analysed how different fields of social policies are interconnected and define the position of clandestinity. In doing so I consider how these processes of exclusion have been negotiated in ways that can be read as reinforcing hierarchical power relations and naturalising forms of segregation, but have, at the same time, also challenged and resisted exclusion.” (242)

Theoretical perspective/framework

Change of the migration policy, and welfare state in Sweden more generally (from social-democratic to increasingly neoliberalising one) as the context. Focuses on the gendered experiences of migration and clandestinity in the context of a transformation of the Swedish welfare model towards a model that follows neoliberal discourses, migration and welfare policies.

Has the perspective that migration policies produce clandestinity through exclusionary laws and practices, and through a political aim to delimit refugee immigration. Hence the writers asks how clandestine asylum seekers’ position can be understood in relation to a gendered migration regime and to notions and practices of citizenship and belonging.

Clandestine asylum seekers‘: refers to asylum seekers who stay in Sweden after their asylum applications have been rejected and who consequently hide‘ from the police and the authorities in order to avoid deportation. The writer also uses the noun clandestinity‘ to describe the social and discursive space in which clandestine asylum seekers are located. This social and discursive space is marked by simultaneous inclusion and exclusion in relation to the Swedish welfare state.

The theoretical perspective is from citizenship studies, and especially feminist and postcolonial critiques of mainstream theories on citizenship, nation and migration.


A long-term ethnographic study with clandestine asylum seekers and asylum rights activists. In-depth interviews with asylum seekers, activists and experts.

Material from the media (television news and newspapers), the internet (official websites of institutions, NGOs and government) and public events (seminars and hearings)  Material from media, public events, NGO websites etc is used to complement the interview material to illustrate the context, and to analyse clandestinity in media and public debates.

Policy suggestions


Suggestions for further research

“This study demonstrates the consequences of allowing the physical and juridical borders of the nation-state to limit the imagination in relation to rights and political demands. It shows the importance of imagining dissolved frontiers and less fixated belongings, as well as showing the value of being in constant movement towards other forms of solidarity despite the risks and contradictions that will inevitably follow.” (242)

Summarised by: Hammam Skaik