Ruben Andersson is an anthropologist working on migration, borders and security with a focus on the West African Sahel and southern Europe. His first book Illegality, Inc.: Clandestine migration and the business of bordering Europe (University of California Press 2014), an ethnographic account of European efforts to halt irregular migration, accompanies border agencies, aid organisations and migrants along the Spanish-African borders. The book shows how the ‘fight against irregular migration’ has fuelled distress and drama at the borders, which in turns has led to the expansion of a self-reinforcing industry of controls.
Ruben's second book is No Go World: How fear is redrawing our maps and infecting our politics (University of California Press 2019). This book, building on multi-sited research financed by the AXA Research Fund, looks comparatively at remote-controlled interventions and the selective withdrawal of international actors from global 'crisis zones'. Taking as its starting point the conflict in Mali in the West African Sahel, it explores how the mapping of danger, the perception of risk and the politics of fear have all contributed to framing and fuelling security, aid and border interventions in the Sahel as well as in other settings such as Somalia, Libya and Afghanistan.
Ruben's recent work has been concerned with security intervention on a global scale. Some of this research is being published in Wreckonomics: Why it's time to end the war on everything (Oxford University Press, 2023). Coauthored with Professor David Keen of LSE, the book examines why various wars and security interventions have proven so profitable despite their frequently disastrous failures. Ruben has recently been awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for a project entitled 'Apocalypse soon: Security, subversion and the struggle for a human future'. The project will run over 2023-26 and will involve multi-sited research for a book on the expansion of global security agendas. Further details will be posted on his personal website.
Ruben has been co-convening and teaching on the MSc in Migration Studies since 2016. He has supervised doctoral research in areas including migration, mobility, displacement and security. During his research leave for a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship over 2023-26, he will not be in a position to take on new doctoral projects.
Ruben is interested in supervising doctoral research in areas including (but not limited to) migration, mobility, security and conflict. As an anthropologist, he is particularly keen on supervising ethnographic research.
Books and monographsAndersson, Ruben (2023) (forthcoming) 'Wreckonomics: Why it’s time to end the war on everything ', Oxford University PressAndersson, Ruben (2019) 'No Go World: How fear is redrawing our maps and infecting our politics ', Oakland: University of California PressAndersson, Ruben (2014) 'Illegality, Inc: Clandestine migration and the business of bordering Europe ', Oakland: University of California Press
Journal articles and special issuesAndersson, Ruben (2022) 'Border walls, irregular migration and the co-optation of the border security playbook ', International Migration 60 (4) : 226-30Andersson, Ruben (2022) 'The bioeconomy and the birth of a "new anthropology" ', Cultural Anthropology 37 (1) : 37-44Andersson, Ruben (with Martin Saxer )(2019) 'Special issue: The return of remoteness: Insecurity, isolation and connectivity in the new world disorder ', Social Anthropology 27 (2)Andersson, Ruben (with Martin Saxer )(2019) 'The return of remoteness: insecurity, isolation and connectivity in the new world disorder ', Social Anthropology 27 (2) : 140-55Andersson, Ruben (2019) 'The Timbuktu syndrome ', Social Anthropology 27 (2) : 304-19Andersson, Ruben (with Florian Weigand )(2019) 'Institutionalized Intervention: The ‘Bunker Politics’ of International Aid in Afghanistan ', Journal of Intervention and StatebuildingAndersson, Ruben (with David Keen )(2018) 'Double games: Success, failure and the relocation of risk in fighting terror, drugs and migration ', Political Geography 67 : 100-10Andersson, Ruben (2018) 'Profits and predation in the bioeconomy of border controls ', Public Culture 30 (3) : 413-39Andersson, Ruben (2017) 'The price of impact: reflections on academic outreach amid the 'refuge crisis' ', Social Anthropology/Anthropologie SocialeAndersson, Ruben (2016) 'Here be dragons: Mapping an ethnography of global danger ', Current Anthropology 57 (6) : 707-31Andersson, Ruben (2016) 'The global front against migration ', Anthropology of This Century 15Andersson, Ruben (2016) 'Europe’s failed 'fight' against irregular migration: Ethnographic notes on a counterproductive industry ', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42 (7) : 1055-75Andersson, Ruben (2016) 'Hardwiring the frontier? The politics of security technology in Europe’s "fight against illegal migration" ', Security Dialogue 47 (1) : 22-39Andersson, Ruben (with F Weigand )(2015) 'Intervention at risk: The vicious cycle of distance and danger in Mali and Afghanistan ', Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 9 (4) : 519-45Andersson, Ruben (2014) 'Hunter and prey: Patrolling clandestine migration in the Euro-African borderlands ', Anthropological Quarterly 87 (1) : 118-49Andersson, Ruben (2014) 'Time and the migrant other: European border controls and the temporal economics of illegality ', American Anthropologist 116 (4) : 795-809Andersson, Ruben (2012) 'A game of risk: Boat migration and the business of bordering Europe ', Anthropology Today 28 (6) : 7-11Andersson, Ruben (2011) 'Frontex y la creación de la frontera euroafricana: golpeando la valla ilusoria ', Revista de derecho Migratorio y Extranjería 28 : 177-91Andersson, Ruben (2010) 'Wild man at Europe’s gates: The crafting of clandestines in Spain’s Cayuco crisis ', Etnofoor 22 (2) : 31-49Andersson, Ruben (2005) 'The new frontiers of America ', Race and Class 46 (3) : 28-38
ChaptersAndersson, Ruben (2019) 'The anthropological borderlands of global migration ', Exotic no more: Anthropology for the contemporary world University of Chicago PressAndersson, Ruben (2018) 'Migration ', Humanitarianism: A dictionary of concepts Abingdon: RoutledgeAndersson, Ruben (2018) 'La lotta all’immigrazione irregolare messa in atto dall’Europa: note etnografiche su un’industria pericolosa ', Venezia nel contesto globale Venice: Centro Tedesco di Studi VenezianiAndersson, Ruben (2018) 'Europe’s failed "fight" against irregular migration ', EU global strategy and human security: Rethinking approaches to conflict Abingdon: RoutledgeAndersson, Ruben (2017) 'Rescued and caught: The humanitarian-security nexus at Europe’s frontiers ', The borders of "Europe": Autonomy of migration, tactics of bordering Durham: Duke University PressAndersson, Ruben (2017) 'From radar systems to rickety boats: Borderline ethnography in Europe’s "illegality industry" ', Methodologies of Mobility: Ethnography and Experiment New York: Berghahn booksAndersson, Ruben (2017) 'In Conversation with Sindre Bangstad About Migrants, Illegality and the Bordering of Europe ', Anthropology of Our Times: An Edited Anthology in Public Anthropology New York: Palgrave Macmillan
ReportsAndersson, Ruben (with David Keen )(2019) 'Partners in crime? The impacts of Europe’s outsourced migration controls on peace, stability and rights ', SaferworldAndersson, Ruben (2016) 'Irreguljär migration och Europas gränskontroller: en etnografisk analys ', Report for Delmi, Sweden’s Migration Studies Delegation (links to policy brief in English)
Other publicationsAndersson, Ruben (with David Keen )(2019) 'Success, failure and the relocation of risk in Europe’s "fight against irregular migration" ', Siirtolaisuus-MigrationAndersson, Ruben (2019) 'Beneficios y depredación en la bioeconomía humana ', Papeles de relaciones ecosociales y cambio global 145Andersson, Ruben (2018) 'Back to the soil. Comment on S. Moland, Sedentary optics: Static anti-trafficking and mobile victims. ', Current Anthropology 59 (2) : 115-37Andersson, Ruben (2018) 'Hic sunt dracones: Cartografía etnográfica del peligro global ', Papeles de relaciones ecosociales y cambio global 142 : 13-28Andersson, Ruben (2016) ' Brexit referendum: First reactions from anthropology. Contribution to joint special section ', Social Anthropology 24 (4) : 478-502Andersson, Ruben (2016) 'Why Europe’s border security approach has failed – and how to change it ', Policy paper for the LSE/Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Berlin report on human securityAndersson, Ruben (2016) 'Warum Europas Konzept der Grenzsicherung gescheitert ist ', Friedrich Ebert StiftungAndersson, Ruben (2015) 'La olla a presión: cómo la seguridad fronteriza sigue aumentando el caos ', Disparidades: Revista de Antropología 70 (2) : 299-306Andersson, Ruben (2014) 'A global front: Thoughts on enforcement at the rich world’s borders ', Online appendix to Andersson, Ruben, Illegality, Inc: Clandestine migration and the business of bordering Europe. Oakland: University of California Press