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Intimate Encounters in EU Borderlands: Migrant Maternity, Sovereignty and the Politics of Care on Europe’s Peripheries

Project description

Addressing maternity care inequality for undocumented migrants

Undocumented pregnant women are a growing demographic, yet few studies focus on their access to maternity care in the EU. Unfortunately, poor maternal health indicators among these women pose ethical and medical challenges for frontline maternity services in EU borderlands. In this context, the ERC-funded EUBorderCare project aims to analyse the politics of maternity care and migration governance in France, Greece, Italy, and Spain. It will review the moral rationale behind healthcare delivery for undocumented migrants in Europe's densely crossed borderlands. Specifically, the project will combine empirical and desk research with innovative audiovisual methods. Its findings have the potential to inform policy changes and facilitate the creation of inclusive healthcare systems, regardless of migratory status.


EU Border Care is a comparative study of the politics of maternity care among undocumented migrants on the EU’s peripheries. Empirical analysis of personal and institutional relations of care and control in the context of pregnancy and childbirth will support an innovative critique of the moral rationale underpinning healthcare delivery and migration governance in some of Europe’s most densely crossed borderlands in France, Greece, Italy and Spain.
Unlike other categories of migrants, undocumented pregnant women are a growing phenomenon, yet few social science or public health studies address EU migrant maternity care. This subject has urgent implications: whilst recent geopolitical events in North Africa and the Middle East have triggered a quantifiable increase in pregnant women entering the EU in an irregular situation, poor maternal health indicators among such women represent ethical and medical challenges to which frontline maternity services located in EU borderlands have to respond, often with little preparation or support from national and European central authorities.
Grounded in long-term ethnographic fieldwork in maternity wards located in French Guiana and Mayotte (Overseas France), the North Aegean and Attica (Greece), Sicily (Italy), and Ceuta and Melilla (Spain), my project will trace the networks of maternity care delivery in peripheries facing an increase of immigration flows, and characterised by structural social and economic underinvestment. My team will investigate migrant maternity from three interlinked research perspectives: migrant women, healthcare delivery staff, and regional institutional agencies. Empirical and desk research, combined with creative audio-visual methods, will document migrant maternity on EU borderlands to address wider questions about identity and belonging, citizenship and sovereignty, and humanitarianism and universalism in Europe today.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 228 256,90
40126 Bologna

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Nord-Est Emilia-Romagna Bologna
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 228 256,90

Beneficiaries (2)