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Infrastructures of Expulsion: Migrant Deportation and Policing in India

Project description

Studying India’s migration policy

The migrant crisis in Afghanistan has underlined the role of ‘neighbouring’ countries as critical locations where the EU seeks to increase migrant hosting capacity. However, research on south-south regional ways of prevention, detention, and deportation of ‘illegal’ migrants is limited. The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) InfraExpulsion project will examine the case study of India to understand how the use of various social, material, and biometric modes of migrant policing engender myriad challenges for migrants as well as the state. The project will use qualitative methods of ethnography, participant observation, and interviews in a residential neighbourhood of Delhi, a police station, and a detention centre, to learn about deportation policing and its impact on various migrant communities.


The unfolding migrant crisis in Afghanistan has once again turned the focus on ‘neighbouring’ countries as key locations where EU policies seek to enhance migrant hosting capacity. Yet, research on South-South migration and regional modes of prevention, detention, and deportation of ‘illegal’ migrants remains limited. Taking the case of India, my project aims to contribute such knowledge by addressing a central paradox in migration regulation i.e. why, despite the proliferation of increasingly stringent forms and modes of migrant policing, do state anxieties regarding the detection and deportation of ‘illegal’ migrants continue to thrive? My project’s original hypothesis is that this paradox stems from the contingent stitching together of social, material, and biometric forms of policing that involve a range of formal and informal actors, spaces, and processes in unpredictable ways. In conceptualising the uneven intermeshing of social, material, and biometric policing as infrastructures of expulsion, I will analyse how the variation in forms of deportation policing produces precarity for migrants whilst engendering governance challenges. Empirically located in Delhi, my project will achieve its goal through anthropological methods of ethnography, participant observation, and interviews that will document practices of deportation policing in a residential neighbourhood, police station, and detention centre, and its impact on African and South Asian migrants. Hosted in the leading Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, the project will aid my scientific and professional training, specialisation in migration and governance, and career growth as an independent researcher. Insights on the paradoxical complexity of contemporary security frameworks, and their substantial human and institutional implications, will be disseminated through conferences, journals, media, and a policy brief that will inform accountable regional and international migration policy.


Net EU contribution
€ 189 687,36
Hofgartenstrasse 8
80539 Munchen

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Bayern Oberbayern München, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Research Organisations
EU contribution
No data