Department of Politics and Society

News from Department of Politics and Society

MIX reading list - March 2023: 'Convoluted mobility', undocumented motherhood and trade and right-wing populism

MIX reading list - March 2023: 'Convoluted mobility', undocumented motherhood and trade and right-wing populism

In March, MIX offers you to explore the concept of 'convoluted mobility', undocumented motherhood, and migrant mother smuggling in the Tunisian–Libyan borderlands and trade unions and right-wing populism in Europe through the case study of Denmark. The research papers are conducted by MIX members and are exploring the forums’ core topics of migration, displacement, and integration.

Last modified: 06.03.2023

By Liene Ulmane, Student Assistant, Center for Displacement, Migration and Integration (MIX)
Photo by Jerome on Unsplash

Magnus Andersen, Lecturer at the Department of Politics and Society and Marlene Spanger, Associate Professor at the Department of Politics and Society at AAU have recently published a research paper “Convoluted Mobility: On the precarious movements of transnational migrant workers” in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

Magnus Andersen: “In the article, we theorize the concept of convoluted mobility to understand how transnational migrant workers' precarious working conditions are not only produced on the national labor market in the global north, such as the Danish one, but rather, they are created throughout the entire migration process.”

To theorize this process, Spanger and Andersen draws on empirical examples from Ukrainian migrant workers in the Danish agricultural industry and migration brokers in Ukraine. Magnus continues: “The precarious and difficult working conditions under which these migrants often work are not only a result of what goes on at work itself but also a result of all the obstacles, de-tours and experiences of stuckness that characterize the migration process.” As an example, he mentions temporary work agencies that exploit migrant situations. “They have created a lucrative industry of moving people from one nation-state to another with everything from fake language certificates to lukewarm work contracts and then cutting off contact with the migrant,” Magnus notes.

The article contributes to migration research by offering unique empirical insights and a theorization on what produces the precariousness of migrant workers in national labor markets in the global North.

► Find the article here

Reading list for March 2023

1.  'Convoluted Mobility: On the precarious movements of transnational migrant workers'

By Marlene Spanger and Magnus Andersen

Abstract: This article explores how the precarity of migrants working in the national labour markets of the Global North is shaped throughout the entire transnational migration process encompassing the planning, the journey as well as the arrival, re-arrival, and engagement across the sending and the receiving societies. Introducing the concept of convoluted mobility, the article highlights how the mediation of transnational labour migration is uneven and filled with frictions of de-tours, stuckness, and obstacles leaving the migrant workers in precarious positions across the sending and receiving societies. Through the empirical examples of Ukrainian migrants working within the agricultural industry in Denmark and brokers in Ukraine, we argue that the precarity of the migrants is established through convoluted mobility characterised by the interlink between the transnational migration infrastructure that moves the migrants and the migrants’ autonomy moving through the migration infrastructure.

► Find the research paper here

2. A Mother’s Choice: Undocumented Motherhood, Waiting and Smuggling in the Tunisian–Libyan Borderlands

By Ahlam Chemlali

Abstract: Anecdotal evidence suggests growing numbers of migrants intercepted at sea – referred to by the Tunisian coastguard as les rescapés (the rescued) – return to Libya via smuggling. In this article I empirically document the experiences of “rescued” migrant mothers who consider and/or purposely re-engage in irregular, highrisk returns involving crossing the Tunisian border back into Libya. Employing a feminist ethnographic approach, this paper explores how undocumented motherhood is experienced and shaped in the context of EU-sponsored counter-smuggling and border enforcement. Building on fieldwork in Medénine, in southern Tunisia, I also examine the considerations of migrant mothers “stuck on the move” concerning clandestine navigation and redirection in the complicated temporal and spatial context created by international organizations and EU-sponsored forms of “protection.” I argue that border enforcement and counter-smuggling policies not only impact everyday life and mobility for undocumented mothers and their children but, as gendered practices, also trap and confine migrant mothers and their children in a cycle of protracted vulnerability, indefinite waiting, and uncertainty in which opting to travel with smugglers becomes the best bet and last resort.

► Find the research paper here

3. Trade Unions and Right-Wing Populism in Europe: Country Study Denmark

By Andreas Beyer Gregersen and Susi Meret

Abstract: Our study consists of three main sections. In the first section we introduce some of the main features characterising the Danish labour market model and the Danish political system. We examine in particular the development and consolidation of right-wing populism in the country. In the second section, we focus on the Danish labour unions, their history, organisation, membership, and on the role these play in Danish society today. Within this section we look at how union representatives formulate and perceive the challenges coming from the far right and how they understand the functions and responsibility of their union to contend with these. Our data consist of semi-structured interviews conducted in August and September 2022 with fifteen trade union representatives of the three major Danish trade unions. We then consider the trade union strategies aimed at preventing the spreading of racism, discrimination and sexism. This encompasses trade unions’ anti-racist, antidiscriminatory, and anti-sexist initiatives and campaigns, issues of trans-sectoral and transnational worker solidarity, and other relevant actions aimed at promoting inclusion, equality, and solidarity among members. To conclude, we strive to put forward a few recommendations for action, based on an assessment of the trade unions’ experiences, but also on the ideas of how to counter extremism and exclusions that emerged during the interviews.

► Find the research paper here

Want to know more?

More news

See the list
Department of Politics and Society • Fibigerstræde 1 og 3, 9220 Aalborg East • Frederikskaj 10B, 2450 Copenhagen SV
Phone.: +45 9940 8192 • Email:
VAT no.: 29102384 • EAN no.: 5798000420656 • P numbers: Aalborg: 1003888237, Copenhagen: 1018019139