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Ruben Andersson

Contact

ruben.andersson@qeh.ox.ac.uk
+44 (0)1865 271902
College

Research interests

Migration; borders; West Africa; Europe; security; mobility; conflict; displacement

Ruben Andersson

Professor of Social Anthropology

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. (See more details at OUP and Ruben's website.)

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.

Doctoral supervision

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.

  • Chapters

    Andersson, Ruben
    ( ) The anthropological borderlands of global migration . J MacClancy The anthropological borderlands of global migration Exotic no more: Anthropology for the contemporary world University of Chicago Press
    Andersson, Ruben
    ( ) Migration . T Allen, A Macdonald and H Radice Migration Humanitarianism: A dictionary of concepts Abingdon: Routledge
    Andersson, Ruben
    ( ) La lotta all’immigrazione irregolare messa in atto dall’Europa: note etnografiche su un’industria pericolosa . R Schmitz-Esser 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 Veneziani
    Andersson, Ruben
    ( ) Europe’s failed "fight" against irregular migration . M Kaldor, I Rangelov and S Selchow Europe’s failed "fight" against irregular migration EU global strategy and human security: Rethinking approaches to conflict Abingdon: Routledge
    Andersson, Ruben
    ( ) From radar systems to rickety boats: Borderline ethnography in Europe’s "illegality industry" . A Elliot, et al From radar systems to rickety boats: Borderline ethnography in Europe’s "illegality industry" Methodologies of Mobility: Ethnography and Experiment New York: Berghahn books
    Andersson, Ruben
    ( ) In Conversation with Sindre Bangstad About Migrants, Illegality and the Bordering of Europe . Sindre Bangstad 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
    Andersson, Ruben
    ( ) Rescued and caught: The humanitarian-security nexus at Europe’s frontiers . N De Genova Rescued and caught: The humanitarian-security nexus at Europe’s frontiers The borders of "Europe": Autonomy of migration, tactics of bordering Durham: Duke University Press
  • Other publications

    Andersson, Ruben
    David Keen ( ) Success, failure and the relocation of risk in Europe’s "fight against irregular migration" . Success, failure and the relocation of risk in Europe’s "fight against irregular migration" Siirtolaisuus-Migration
    Andersson, Ruben
    ( ) Beneficios y depredación en la bioeconomía humana . Beneficios y depredación en la bioeconomía humana Papeles de relaciones ecosociales y cambio global 145
    Andersson, Ruben
    ( ) Back to the soil. Comment on S. Moland, Sedentary optics: Static anti-trafficking and mobile victims. . Back to the soil. Comment on S. Moland, Sedentary optics: Static anti-trafficking and mobile victims. Current Anthropology 59 (2) 115-37
    Andersson, Ruben
    ( ) Hic sunt dracones: Cartografía etnográfica del peligro global . Hic sunt dracones: Cartografía etnográfica del peligro global Papeles de relaciones ecosociales y cambio global 142 13-28
    Andersson, Ruben
    ( ) Brexit referendum: First reactions from anthropology. Contribution to joint special section . Brexit referendum: First reactions from anthropology. Contribution to joint special section Social Anthropology 24 (4) 478-502
    Andersson, Ruben
    ( ) Why Europe’s border security approach has failed – and how to change it . 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 security
    Andersson, Ruben
    ( ) Warum Europas Konzept der Grenzsicherung gescheitert ist . Warum Europas Konzept der Grenzsicherung gescheitert ist Friedrich Ebert Stiftung
    Andersson, Ruben
    ( ) La olla a presión: cómo la seguridad fronteriza sigue aumentando el caos . La olla a presión: cómo la seguridad fronteriza sigue aumentando el caos Disparidades: Revista de Antropología 70 (2) 299-306
    Andersson, Ruben
    ( ) A global front: Thoughts on enforcement at the rich world’s borders . 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
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