DEPARTED: A longitudinal study on irregular migration from Sub-Saharan Africa to Europe.

Name of applicant

Christian Vium


Aarhus University


DKK 695,223



Type of grant

Monograph Fellowships


For 15 years, I have been conducting anthropological research on irregular migration from Sub-Saharan Africa into Europe. Throughout my research, my overall question has been: What motivates the migrants to undertake their perilous journey, what takes place along the way, and how can we draw closer to understanding their experiences, as well as understand the implications of this migration for the individual and for society at large?


We are in urgent need of a new critical, ethico-aesthetic framework for how to engage with, represent, and discuss the ongoing atrocities and suffering in the wake of the so-called European 'refugee crisis' of 2015, the rise of right-wing extremism, xenophobia, and the spectacular militarization of external borders across the European Union. The proposed book will deliver this based on in-depth qualitative research alongside irregular migrants, state-of-the art anthropological theory and an innovative approach to the visual representation of one of the most pressing issues of our time.


The proposed monograph 'Departed' is a journey alongside irregular migrants who travel from small villages in Sub-Saharan Africa through the hostile expanses of the Sahara desert, across the Mediterranean Sea, reaching Europe in the hope of establishing a better life for themselves and their families. Structured in three parts, the monograph presents a multitude of thick ethnographic cases based on recurrent anthropological fieldwork conducted in Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Morocco, Spain, Italy, France, and Denmark between 2006 and 2021. 'Departed' is envisioned as a combined anthropological and photographic monograph. Through its form and content, it draws its reader into a kaleidoscopic journey mirroring that of the migrants as they navigate the many challenges confronting them.

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