Ongoing and concluded PhDs

PhD researcher or student information

Montel Tom

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Discipline: Political Science

Degrees BA: Political Science


Political Science (Comparative Political Sociology)

PhD Research Information

Political Sociology of the Dublin Regime
Strategies of flight and mecanisms of « capture » in the Schengen era

Brief description:

This PhD project deals with the genesis of a category of third country citizens excluded from the right to free movement within the EU+ area: the « dubliner ». This term refers to a Convention signed in 1990 in Dublin, alongside the Schengen Implementing Convention. Both of them enshrined the same principle unquestioned since then: any asylum claim should be examined only once, by one single Member State defined according to a series of criteria specified in these conventions. Once this principle established, what could be conceptualised as "flight strategies" from the Dublin Regime have proliferated. Thus, It is no longer flight to Europe, but within Europe itself - from the country responsible for examining the asylum claim as well as from transfer procedures towards this country - that has become an object of government.

Following the Amsterdam Treaty and the Tampere European Council (1999), the EU set itself the goal of supplementing Dublin with a series of directives to found a "Common European Asylum System" (CEAS). It aimed, inter alia, to reduce these "secondary movements" both through their traceability - made possible by a biometric database (EURODAC) - and through the harmonization of respective national asylum legislations. In spite of this (or because of an unachieved harmonization), many are those refusing this injunction to stay in a country they have not always chosen. If they claim asylum in another Member State, they may find themselves subjected to a procedure of transfer to the Member State responsible for their case.

Among these "Dubliners", an administrative sub-category was created on the occasion of the transition from the Dublin Convention to the Dublin II Regulation (adopted in 2003). This constitutes the central object of this thesis. According to article 29.2 of the current version of the Dublin Regulation (EU 604 (2013)), someone under a Dublin transfer procedure can be deemed "absconders" if the national authorities consider they have obstructed their transfer. They are then left status-less for up to 18 months. From the loss of the right to stay to "deportability", from house arrest to detention, from closure of the asylum application to the suspension of any social rights: the measures against them have multiplied since 2015 in parallel with the massification of application of the article 29.2.

This research project consists precisely in retracing the progressive development of these dissuasive measures against "flight strategies" and undesirable forms of circulation within a supposedly “borderless” area. Going back to the origins of the Schengen/Dublin dual regime of circulation till the current dead-end of its reform, it will then propose to reinscribe the juridico-political construction of this category of "absconders" within a wider socio-history of flight and its capture by the state apparatus.


This thesis is situated at the crossroads of various disciplinary and theoretical traditions: international political sociology, critical security studies, sociology of law, anthropology of the global, diaspora studies, political economy and social history. Resolutely trans-disciplinary, it aims to bring together several scales of observation;: from the micro-situated observation of the lived experiences of migrants to the macro-analysis of EU public policies. More specifically, it envisions to highlight the dialectical relationship between the strategies that these people collectively create in their migration project and the successive transformations of the juridico-administrative mechanisms deployed against their (im)mobility. The final goal being to illustrate how this dialectical dynamic can inform the wider legislative and institutional process at the Community level. For all those reasons, this research draws on three kind of research material: 1. Multi-sited ethnographic observations on the long trend. This investigation is based first on the follow-up of asylum seekers' trajectories since 2015, following them in various transit zones from northern Italy to Calais, from the Parisian campshifts to the Maximilian Park in Brussels, and sometimes beyond the Channel. In addition, observations as well as individualand collective interviews have been conducted in camps, squats, reception centers, courts, detention centers and legal advices offices. 2. Primary documentation and archives. Among others: statistical data (Eurostat, EU-LISA); EU agencies documentation (EASO/EUAA, EU-LISA, EMN…); legislative procedures (Home Affairs Council, DG Home, LIBE Commission and Parliament), case-laws corpus (CJEU, ECtHR and national courts), documentation produced by the Dublin Units (and any other national authority in charge of the application of the Dublin Regulation). In addition, a wide range of archival funds from pre-Amsterdam and Schengen ad-hoc groups have been consulted. Among these, many documents have been recently declassified and therefore not analysed till now. 3. Interviews with present and past institutional actors. In particular, the following are targeted: members of the LIBE committee, officials from DG Home, EASO/EUAA. EU-LISA, the council DG for Justice and Home Affairs, members of permanent representations in the COREPER II. At the national level: the Dublin units and other national institutions in charge of the application of the Dublin Regulation. Last but not least, the now retired officials who in the 1990s' may have been in position to participate in the negotiations on Schengen, Dublin and the premises of the CEAS.

Keywords: ceas, Dublin System, EURODAC, Freedom of movement, schengen, secondary movements, absconding

Language(s) of writing: French

Country: France

Home University:

Université Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis


Political Science Department/CRESPPA-Labtop

Supervisor: Jeanpierre Laurent
Start date: 01-10-2018
PhD current status: PhD Ongoing
PhD research funded by: Université Paris Lumière
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Added to catalogue on: 17-06-2022

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