CfP: “The Undocumented, the Non-legitimate, and Their Welfare – Taking stock of social and health services vis-à-vis ‘unexpected migrants’ across European societies” – IMISCOE Conference Geneva, 25-27 June 2015

The Undocumented, the Non-legitimate, and Their Welfare – Taking stock of social and health services vis-à-vis ‘unexpected migrants’ across European societies

Organizers: ERICA RIGHARD (Malmö Univesristy), PAOLO BOCCAGNI (Trento University), and CLAUDIO BOLZMAN (University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland)

Deadline for abstracts: January 9, 2015


Social and health care work with undocumented migrants has always been a source of challenges and dilemmas for practitioners and their organizations. This session aims to collect reflections, research findings and practice experiences about social and health care provision with this specific kind of users/clients. Undocumented migrants – including “illegal”, overstayers, rejected applicants for asylum, non-registered EU-migrants, or formerly “regular” migrants – are typically marginal to the rights and service provision of receiving societies, although with strong variations across and within them. Their claims and needs are often addressed, if at all, by grassroots civil society initiative and through their informal ethnic networks, rather than via institutional welfare provision. Their very existence may be a source of major ethical and substantive dilemmas to welfare practitioners and their agencies, against a background of generally hostile public opinions. While a number of studies have been done on the topic, there is a strong need for more comparative and interdisciplinary analysis, also in the light of several recent developments: the effects of the persisting recession in some European countries, the growing pressures of refugees from the Global South and of the increasing visibility of “return” programmes, to mention but a few.

Our session, which is expected to form part of the IMISCOE 2015 conference in Geneva, aims to advance knowledge and the public debate on the position, entitlements and protection of undocumented migrants, vis-à-vis all sort of social and health care agencies of receiving societies. We encourage paper proposals on several aspects of undocumented migrants inclusion/exclusion from welfare services, including the following:

–  Migrants’ access to everyday social and health care provision as an everyday process of boundary- making and of predominant exclusion;
–  The interaction between undocumented migrants’ marginality towards “formal” services, and the constellation of informal arrangements of social welfare and protection (including NGOs, social movements and ethnic networks/associations);
– Social and health work with asylum seekers and follow-up of failed applicants;
– Social and health work with “non-legitimate” residents as deontological dilemma for welfare professions, as well as for research and training in social work;
– Undocumented migrants’ rights as a field of advocacy and claims-making for welfare professions; – Social care and health agencies/practitioners vis-à-vis “voluntary return” programmes.

Abstract (250 words) of paper proposals are due by January 9, 2015. Please send your proposals to and The abstract should include a title and specify the main research question, method and findings, as well as name and affiliation of author(s). Based on a selected number of the papers received, we expect to advance a joint publication project in the field of migration and social work. More information about the IMISCOE conference: