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EU Border Care



Our project entails long-term ethnographic fieldwork in the territories of four EU member states, France, Greece, Italy, and Spain – territories vastly diverse in their relationship to their national states, as well in their historical and current experiences with alterity, marginalization, and human mobility; yet similar in their capacity as sociocultural, legal (political), and physical EU borderlands, where processes of care and control in the context of undocumented maternity hinge on and reflect various relations and hierarchies, born of distinct but also shared social, cultural, historical, political, and economic factors.

Further, we are likely to expand our investigation to one more state, Malta, primarily because of its proximity to Italy and the common migration* route on which the two countries sit. We are also likely to conduct fieldwork in Balkan territories that form part of migrants’ routes from Greece, Italy, or Turkey to Northern and Western Europe.

We will conduct research at various locations where undocumented migrant expecting or recent mothers seek or receive antenatal and postnatal care, and deliver their babies. This will include hospital maternity wards, but also various other structures and locations, such as the premises of health NGOs, refugee camps, hot spots, and less or more open “hospitality” spaces.

Fieldwork will start in late July 2016, and is scheduled to last for one year, although researchers may return to various sites after this period, if the need arises. As soon as fieldwork starts, our Web site will offer regular updates on our researchers’ activity at each research locale, including audio-visual material produced by the researchers, but also by our project photographer, Paola Leonardi, and several external contributors. Paola will divide her time among the different research locales; external collaborators will include local professional or amateur (e.g., activists or migrants themselves) photographers, filmmakers, and potentially a comics artist!

Fieldwork in Italy will be conducted by our project’s principal investigator, Vanessa Grotti, and by research associate Chiara Quagliariello. Vanessa will investigate undocumented maternity in Sicily; she will be based in Syracuse, but will conduct research throughout the island. Both Vanessa and Chiara will conduct research in the island of Lampedusa, where Chiara will take the lead. Chiara will also be in charge of research in Malta.

Research associate Cynthia Malakasis will conduct fieldwork in Greece – in the regional unit of Attica, islands of the Aegean, and potentially other locations depending on where undocumented migrants settle or are placed by various authorities in the course of our research project. Cynthia and Chiara will also conduct research along the Balkan transit routes.

Fieldwork in the Overseas French Departments of Guiana and Mayotte – in Guiana’s Saint-Laurent du Maroni and Mayotte’s Mamoudzou respectively, and potentially other places depending on developments and findings in the course of our research – will be conducted by research associate Nina Sahraoui.

Nina will also be in charge of fieldwork in Spain’s Northern Africa enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla.

Please come back for regular updates as soon as fieldwork has started!

* We use the term “migration” (as well as “”migrant,” “migratory,” etc.) to denote cross-border mobility in general – NOT to imply a distinction between people with or without claims to international protection.