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Migrations and Security

Sécurités et migrations

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Published on Tuesday, June 11, 2024


In the past few decades, migration control has become a common political answer for many States. This topical collection aims at refining how social sciences analyse the migration/security nexus and what challenges researchers face studying this topic. Bringing together contributions from various fields and disciplines, this publication highlights two issues: the institutionalization of migration control, and the researcher’s epistemological vigilance with regard to the notion of security in the practices he or she is studying. The topical collection offers an avenue for assessing the extension of security rationale to migration issues, while questioning the use of concepts from security studies at the expense or complementary to other concepts and perspectives.



Over the last few decades, migration control has become a priority in many countries, and at different stages of the migration route — in countries of departure, arrival and transit. While the logic of control permeates development policies and irrigates multilateral arenas, migration is also the subject of geopolitical blackmail. This convergence of control logics has repercussions in terms of violence, confinement, and a human cost, insofar as these developments put migrants at risk. The security rationale also reinforces their stigmatization, which ultimately enables many political parties to gain electoral support. Political interpretations of migration in terms of threat and danger turns them into political issues which then structure societies. This topical collection takes a critical and multidisciplinary look at how social sciences have dealt with security aspects of migrations over the last thirty years, and at the challenges they face today.

A Wealth of Literature in Various Sub-Fields

Until now, scientific literature has approached migration as a security threat from four angles: through the analysis of the political and institutional interests involved in maintaining the migration/security relationship, control practices and technologies, geopolitical and international implications of the security perception of migration, and the effects of control on individual migration paths. In contrast to sociology of migration, which focuses on understanding transnational links between societies of origin and societies of departure (Green, 2019), critical security studies examine the concrete manifestations of the association between migration and security. In the 1990s, by extending the concept of security to non-military issues, different schools of critical international relations (Bigo, 1998 and 2005; Huysmans, 2000; Guild, 2009) took into account in their analysis the construction of a new post-Cold War discourse of threat associated with migrations. They have shown how control practices (harmonisation of visa systems, organisation of removals, border controls, interoperability of databases, generalisation of detention, development of biometrics, information exchanges, etc.) have multiplied, together with the legitimisation of police and political actors and the construction of the European project (Duez, 2008; Guiraudon, 2010; Jeandesboz, 2016; Casella Colombeau, 2017; Isleyen, 2018). Their work complements the analysis of the media and discursive treatment of migration as a ’public problem’. This treatment is in accordance with political strategies and different societies’ historical relationships to the phenomenon of migration (Rea, 1998; Hollifield et al., 2008; Favell, 2014; Geddes and Scholten, 2016; Morales et al., 2015; Bourbeau, 2017; Arzheimer, 2018; Benson, 2018; Zolberg, 2019).

Since then, analysis of the security-migration relationship has turned to its geopolitical and international implications. The issue of migration control has been studied from the standpoint of externalisation policies and delegation of control to non-state, humanitarian or private actors (Audebert and Robin, 2009; Frelick et al., 2016). The border landscape thus becomes an assemblage of actors and technologies (Frowd, 2018; Teunissen, 2020) that goes beyond border police and migration control officers (Bjørgo and Mareš, 2019). In this context, the security-migration nexus is also the subject of international negotiations and rents, and is rising to the top of the international agenda (El Qadim, 2010), with the distribution of migration management under the guise of “global governance of migration” (Geiger and Pécoud, 2010). Other research shows the effects of these policies on migratory routes in terms of trauma, death and encampment (Ritaine, 2009; Agier, 2008; Pillant and Tassin, 2015).

Research has therefore progressively organised itself into different sub-fields that enable it to grasp the practices, discourses, rationales and consequences of the security treatment of migration. To name just a few examples, this includes the study of encampment and deaths in migration, the role of humanitarian actors, the many forms of delegation of control to private actors or non-governmental organisations, the analysis of security professionals, the role of technologies in control, the forms of solidarity and resistance on the part of people in migration, and examples of cultural and linguistic mediation at borders.

Researchers from the department POLICY of the Convergences Migrations Institute (Collège de France) have been working together since September 2021 to look at the conflation of security and migration from a reflexive and epistemological perspective. The scientific discussions focused on the issue of the definition of security, or rather of securities and the intersection of different rationales (humanitarian, security, development, technological, etc.) within control mechanisms. The diversity of these perspectives will enable us to identify the changes at play in the permanence and sophistication of migration control today. The topical collection will also examine the relevance of using specific concepts and notions from security studies in relation to conceptual tools from different disciplines (communication, political science, sociology or anthropology).

Issue 1: Extending the Scope of Control

The first topic this special issue aims to investigate is the institutionalisation of migration control. The anchoring of control over migratory routes and its persistence over time depend on its articulation with other logics specific to the migratory phenomenon. Linking migration control to humanitarian operations and various development objectives, for example, goes further than extending the security issue to migration. Indeed, we believe that understanding the security/migration nexus reinforces the sub-fields of analysis around the notion of the “humanitarian border” (Cuttitta, 2015; Vaughan-Williams, 2015; Fine, 2017; Stierl, 2018; Pallister-Wilkins, 2020), “environmental migration” (Schnell, 2022) or “development” (Boyer, 2019), which participates to the institutionalisation of control over time.

For example, this link raises the question of extending the field of security to humanitarian issues. As humanitarian discourse confronts security discourse on migration, shifting the focus from the security threat that migrants pose to host countries to the security of migrants themselves, are humanitarian practices in opposition to the security apparatus surrounding migrations? Is this shift in the focus on security in opposition to the rhetoric and practice of securing borders or, on the contrary, is it possible to see these two issues of security intertwined? Is the security of migrants becoming part of the wider mechanism for securing borders? If so, aren’t the practices of securing migrants mobilised to confer a form of legitimacy on border arrangements, putting the violence perpetrated against migrants at the border in the background?

We believe that several methodologies can measure these nuances and provide answers to the question of the institutionalisation of security in other areas, and by actors other than those of the State. The first is the analysis of discourses relating to the issues of securing borders and migration. Such an approach to exploring the discourse of actors could be applied to media arenas, online controversies and the communication policies of states and non-state actors involved in the governance of migration. This discourse-based approach makes it possible to better grasp the sometimes polysemous nature of the notion of security, and to better explore its “humanitarian” dimension, thus documenting a form of ideological hegemony of security (Garland, 2001). At the same time, it allows us to outline the rationalities that interact throughout the migration process. A second approach involves more ethnographic practices, with researchers immersing themselves in so-called “security” fields to describe the effects of controls on crossings (Sanchez, 2017), migration trajectories, security mechanisms, the space of manoeuvre of associations and NGOs, and the migrants themselves, in order to provide a detailed understanding of the issues involved in providing migrants with security, and the way in which this relates to border security dispositifs.

The topical collection will therefore welcome contributions that show the diversity of sub-fields studying the security/migration conflation, as well as the specific or more traditional conceptual and methodological apparatus used by the social sciences to study it.

Issue 2: Defining Security

The second issue concerns the definition of security. In fact, the challenges of defining the contours of security in the field of migration need to be considered on two levels. The first is theoretical: how do researchers define the concept? At the scientific level, there is a theoretical debate on how to define and understand security, and how to understand the security/insecurity dialectic by asking: what provides security? For whom? In the name of what? (Baldwin, 1997). Security remains a political and relative value. Recent publications question the political priority given to migration control. They opt for strategies that circumvent an essentialist definition of security in order to exercise “epistemological vigilance” (Bourdieu et al., 2010) towards the security discourses and practices in place (without, however, denying the existence of border violence). Some research strategies aim instead at reinstating situations of control in economic situations specific to crossings, in the concrete organisation of border crossings, in local contestation of control (Lendaro, 2015, Della Porta and Steinhilper, 2021) or in the description of security mechanisms and discourses that do not present themselves as such, such as voluntary returns, for example. The epistemological balance is sometimes difficult to maintain depending on the disciplinary anchorage, but it nevertheless constitutes a common challenge for research. The second challenge in defining security arises from the way in which this concept is used by those involved in migration-related controversies. For example, the objective definition of what security is (in the face of “risks/dangers”, “smugglers”, “irregulars”, or even “illegals”) is often asserted in the control policies in place.

The topical collection will therefore be open to contributions that address this “epistemological vigilance” with regard to the safety discourse in the fields studied, while questioning the conceptual and theoretical frameworks for addressing securit(ies). Ultimately, the topical collection will include contributions from a variety of disciplines, covering a range of geographical areas and using different conceptual frameworks. The coordinators will also pay attention to the description of methods and contexts of investigation in fields characterised by security and control. In this way, the topical collection demonstrates the difficulties and opportunities for research to combine empirical study of migration control with scientific analysis of security logics.

Submission Modalities

Abstract proposals may be written in French, English or Spanish, and should include the author’s affiliation, a proposed title and an abstract (1,000 words or 7,000 characters including spaces). They should clearly present the method, the data and the empirical and theoretical contribution of the article to the theme of the topical collection. They may come from any social science discipline and should be sent to

  • emma.empociello[at]scpobx.fr
  • gardenier.matthijs[at]univ-montp3.fr
  • kamel.dorai[at]cnrs.fr 

before September 1st, 2024.

Accepted papers can be written in French, English or Spanish.

For further details (standards, number of characters, presentation, etc.): https://journals.openedition.org/remi/5849


  • Start of the call: June 1st, 2024
  • Deadline to send abstracts and closure of the call: September 1st, 2024
  • Selection and decision: October 1st, 2024
  • Deadline to send articles: March 1st, 2025
  • Peer-review Deadline to send articles in their latest version: August 1st, 2025
  • Publication: December 2025

Selection Committee/Coordination

  • Emma Empociello, Political Scientist, Lecturer in Political Science, SciencePo Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France, Fellow of the French Collaborative Institute on Migration
  • Matthijs Gardenier, Sociologist, Postdoctoral Researcher in Sociology, Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, LEIRIS, Montpellier, France; Fellow of the French Collaborative Institute on Migration
  • Kamel Doraï, Geographer, Research Fellow, CNRS, Université de Poitiers, Migrinter, Poitiers, France; Fellow of the French Collaborative Institute on Migration




Agier Michel (2008) Gérer les indésirables. Des camps de réfugiés au gouvernement humanitaire, Paris, Flammarion.

Arzheimer Kai (2018) Explaining Electoral Support for the Radical Right, in Jens Rydgren Ed., The Oxford Handbook of the Radical Right, Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp. 143-165.

Audebert Cédric et Robin Nelly (2009) L’externalisation des frontières des « Nords » dans les eaux des « Suds ». L’exemple des dispositifs frontaliers américains et européens visant au contrôle de l’émigration caribéenne et subsaharienne, Cultures & Conflits, 1 (73), pp. 35-51.

Baldwin David A. (1997) The concept of security, Review of international studies, 23 (1), pp. 5-26.

Benson Rodney (2018) L’immigration au prisme des médias, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes.

Bigo Didier (2005) La mondialisation de l’(in)sécurité ? Réflexions sur le champ des professionnels de la gestion des inquiétudes et analytique de la transnationalisation des processus d’(in)sécurisation, Cultures & conflits, 58, pp. 53-101.

Bigo Didier (1998) Sécurité et immigration, Cultures & Conflits, 3-4 (31-32), [en ligne]. DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/conflits.537

Bjørgo Tore and Mareš Miroslav (Eds.) (2019) Vigilantism against migrants and minorities, London, Routledge.

Bourdieu Pierre, Chamboredon Jean-Claude et Passeron Jean-Claude (2010) Le métier de sociologue, Berlin, De Gruyter Mouton.

Bourbeau Philippe (Ed.) (2017) Handbook on migration and security, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing.

Boyer Florence (2019) Sécurité, développement, protection. Le triptyque de l’externalisation des politiques migratoires au Niger, Hérodote, 1 (172), pp. 171-191.

Casella Colombeau Sara (2017) Policing the internal Schengen borders – managing the double bind between free movement and migration control, Policing and society, 27 (5), pp. 480-493.

Cuttitta Paolo (2015) La frontière Lampedusa. Mises en intrigue du sécuritaire et de l’humanitaire, Cultures & Conflits, 3-4 (99-100), pp. 99-115.

Duez Denis (2008) L’Union européenne et l’immigration clandestine. De la sécurité intérieure à la construction de la communauté politique, Bruxelles, Éditions de l’Université de Bruxelles.

Della Porta Donatella and Steinhilper Elias (2020) Introduction: solidarities in Motion: Hybridity and Change in Migrant Support Practices, Critical Sociology, 47 (2), pp. 175-185.

El Qadim Nora (2010) La politique migratoire européenne vue du Maroc : contraintes et opportunités, Politique européenne, 2 (31), pp. 91-118.

Favell Adrian (2014) Immigration, Integration and Mobility, Colchester, ECPR Press.

Fine Shoshana (2017) Borders and Mobility in Turkey: Governing Souls and States, Cham, Palgrave Macmillan.

Frelick Bill, Kysel Ian M. and Podkul Jennifer (2016) The impact of externalization of migration controls on the rights of asylum seekers and other migrants, Journal on Migration and Human Security, 4 (4), pp. 190-220.

Frowd Philippe M. (2018) Security at the Borders: Transnational Practices and Technologies in West Africa, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Garland David (2001) The Culture of Control: Crime and Social Order in Contemporary Society, Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

Geddes Andrew and Scholten Peter (2016) The politics of migration and immigration in Europe, London, Sage Publications.

Geiger Martin and Pécoud Antoine (2010) The politics of international migration management, in Martin Geiger and Antoine Pécoud Eds., The politics of international migration management, London, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1-20.

Green Nancy L. (2019) The limits of transnationalism, Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

Guild Elspeth (2009) Security and Migration in the 21st Century, Cambridge, Polity Press.

Guiraudon Virginie (2010) Les effets de l’européanisation des politiques d’immigration et d’asile, Politique européenne, 2 (31), pp. 7-32.

Hollifield James F., Hunt Valerie F. and Tichenor Daniel J. (2008) The liberal paradox: Immigrants, markets and rights in the United States, SMU Law Review, 61, pp. 67-98.

Huysmans Jef (2000) The European Union and the securitization of migration, JCMS – Journal of Common Market Studies, 38 (5), pp. 751-777.

Isleyen Beste (2018) Turkey’s governance of irregular migration at European Union borders: Emerging geographies of care and control, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 36 (5), pp. 849-866.

Jeandesboz Julien (2016) Smartening border security in the European Union: An associational inquiry, Security Dialogue, 47 (4), pp. 292-309.

Lendaro Annalisa (2015) Investir la rue alors qu’on n’en a pas le droit : l’improbable mobilisation des demandeurs d’asile à Lampedusa (Italie), Sociologie et sociétés, 47 (1), pp. 123-145.

Morales Laura, Pilet Jean-Benoit and Ruedin Didier (2015) The gap between public preferences and policies on immigration: A comparative examination of the effect of politicisation on policy congruence, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 41 (9), pp. 1495-1516.

Pallister-Wilkins Polly (2020) Hotspots and the geographies of humanitarianism, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 38 (6), pp. 991-1008.

Pillant Laurence et Tassin Louise (2015) Lesbos, l’île aux grillages. Migrations et enfermement à la frontière gréco-turque, Cultures & conflits, 99-100, pp. 25-55.

Rea Andrea (1998) Immigration et racisme en Europe, Paris, Éditions Complexe.

Ritaine Évelyne (2009) La barrière et le checkpoint : mise en politique de l’asymétrie, Cultures & conflits, 1 (73), pp. 15-33.

Sanchez Gabriella (2017) Critical perspectives on clandestine migration facilitation: An overview of migrant smuggling research, Journal on Migration and Human Security, 5 (1), pp. 9-27.

Schnell William (2022) Migration and the Meta-Problem of Climate Change, in Rajendra Baikady, S.M. Sajid, Varoshini Nadesan, Jaroslaw Przeperski, Islam Rezaul and Jianguo Gao Eds., The Palgrave Handbook of Global Social Change, Cham, Palgrave Macmillan, pp.1-17.

Stierl Maurice (2018) A fleet of Mediterranean border humanitarians, Antipode, 50 (3), pp. 704-724.

Teunissen Peter (2020) Border Crossing Assemblages: Differentiated Travelers and the Viapolitics of FlixBus, Journal of Borderlands Studies, 35 (3), pp 385-401.

Vaughan-Williams Nick (2015) Europe’s Border Crisis: Biopolitical Security and Beyong, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Zolberg Aristide R (2019) Bounded states in a global market: The uses of international labor migrations, in Pierre Bourdieu, James S. Coleman, Zdzislawa Walaszek Coleman Eds., Social theory for a changing society, London, Routledge, pp. 301-335.


  • Sunday, September 01, 2024


  • sécurité, migration, frontière, sécuritisation, security, migration, border, securitisation


  • Matthijs Gardenier
    courriel : gardenier [dot] matthijs [at] univ-montp3 [dot] fr
  • Emma Empociello
    courriel : emma [dot] empociello [at] scpobx [dot] fr
  • Kamel Doraï
    courriel : mohammed [dot] kamel [dot] dorai [at] univ-poitiers [dot] fr

Information source

  • Vincent Balandre
    courriel : vincent [dot] balandre [at] univ-poitiers [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Migrations and Security », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, https://doi.org/10.58079/11smz

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