Post by Leanne Weber, Sigmund Mohn, Francesco Vecchio and Andriani Fili

This article, recently published in Global Networks, arose from previous collaborative work that resulted in a chapter for the Routledge Handbook on Crime and International Migration - ‘Deciphering Deportation Practices Across the Global North’. The intention in the article was to move beyond the constraints of the statistical comparisons presented in the handbook chapter, to provide a more well-rounded analysis of deportation practices that take into account local historical and geo-political differences. The analysis was based on selected countries situated at opposite peripheries of the European Union, namely Norway, Sweden, Italy and Greece. In the best tradition of articles that seek to break new ground, the text underwent numerous metamorphoses, transforming from a comparative study of deportation into a quest for a methodology that transcended both national frameworks and official definitions of ‘deportation’. The intention was to better capture the dynamics of contemporary border enforcement and other mediators of mobility.

In the resulting paper we argue that ‘deportation’ can best be understood, not as a discrete practice that is unidirectional, territorial and wholly controlled by individual states, but as a range of diverse practices used by states (and sometimes undermined by other parties) to foster control over the circulation of people within a dynamic supra-national space. The challenge has been to put together and ground the paper’s theoretical framework on a wealth of qualitative data in an area of criminology that relies heavily on quantitative methods of research, which, we argue, do not include forms of deportation that escape the logic of formal, sanctioned and recordable approval.

By focusing on ‘mobility control continuums’ operating in the selected countries, we have tried to capture the dynamics of state intervention in trans-border flows and contribute to the development of concepts and methodologies for the criminological study of border control that are ‘sensitive to the complexities of the global’. While this paper focuses on Europe, its findings and methods may be applicable in, or at the very least relevant for, other geographical spaces where ‘undesirable’ migrant populations are increasingly targeted for removal, in many cases constructed with the appearance of voluntarism.

It was crucial to the success of the project to bring together an international team of scholars who had the necessary knowledge and skills to gather and interpret data within their countries of origin. The large writing team also created practical challenges of coordination and the streamlining of theoretical interpretations across case studies, and we are grateful for the existence of Skype which provided opportunities for live discussions about these matters beyond the restrictions of email. In the end, we hope we have made a unique and thought-provoking contribution to border criminology. We all agree that it is richer than any one of the authors could have produced on their own.

Note: Sigmund Mohn deserves a special mention here for also taking on the task of understanding deportation practices in his neighbouring country, Sweden.

Any comments about this post? Get in touch with us! Send us an email, or post a comment here or on Facebook. You can also tweet us.


How to cite this blog post (Harvard style) 

Weber, L., Mohn, S., Vecchio, F. and Fili, A. (2019) Beyond Deportation: Researching the Control of Outward Mobility Using a Space of Flows Logic. Available at: (Accessed [date])