Monash University
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The securitisation of migration and refugee women

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posted on 2017-02-17, 01:06 authored by Gerard, Alison Frances
This research contributes a gendered analysis of the securitisation of migration by focusing on women‟s experiences of irregular migration. The Central Mediterranean European Union Member State of Malta finds itself on the frontline of policing and securing Europe‟s southern external borders against transnational migrant subjects (Gil-Bazo 2006; Klepp 2010). Through qualitative interviews with refugee women in Malta, and members of law enforcement agencies and representatives of non-government organisations operating in the Maltese context, this thesis seeks to understand how the securitisation of migration impacts upon women‟s experiences across four key stages of migration – exit, transit, arrival and onward migration. Malta is the geographical site at which the four stages of the border crossing process are examined. The securitisation of migration, underpinned by familiar criminal justice practices of deterrence, punishment and risk-reduction as examined here conflicts with the central tenets of refugee protection. This thesis explores the gendered dimensions of the tensions between these two legal frameworks and how they relate to women‟s experiences of crossing international borders from Somalia into Malta to seek refugee protection. Women‟s agency and resilience are enacted within frames of violence, punishment, containment and control. The securitisation of migration influences complex decision-making at each stage along the migratory path, produces layered and gendered vulnerabilities, and can culminate in the deteriorating mental and physical health of refugee women, particularly at the stage of arrival in Malta. This research contributes a micro account of the securitisation of migration to refocus the debate on the everyday life experiences of those most directly affected by this restrictive apparatus – transnational migrant subjects.

 Awards: Winner of the Mollie Holman Doctoral Medal for Excellence, Faculty of Arts, 2012.


Principal supervisor

Sharon Pickering

Additional supervisor 1

Jude McCulloch, Leanne Weber

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Department, School or Centre



Doctor of Philosophy

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Faculty of Arts

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