BIRMM lecture ‘Family reunification policies: How bureaucrats make them work?’ with Carla Mascia and Amal Miri

Monday 19 December 2022, 16:00 to 18:00

18 December is international migrants day. According to latest estimates from the Migration Policy Institute, there are over 280 million migrants around the world. When considering migration policies, however, we often think of the role of politicians and policy-makers. But what about the role of bureaucrats who implement these policies? In this lecture, Carla Mascia will present the findings from her latest research on the street-level implementation of family reunification, which is the most common route for legal migration in the EU.

Based on an ethnography inside the administration (the Office des étrangers/Vreemdelingenzaken), her research highlights that selection, rather than restriction, is at the core of administrative practices. However, administration does not act into a vacuum and its decisions have to be legally grounded, which shape decision-making. Looking at the selection made on the ground of family reunification policy, this lecture will seek to understand how these decisions are made by going beyond the traditional focus on the control of ‘fraudulent’ marriages. It will consider elements such as the economic logics and identity logics that contribute to the categorization of migrant families as desirable or undesirable; and assess the extent to which these logics are separable or, on the contrary, connected to each other.

Amal Miri will then discuss Carla Mascia’s findings and reflect upon what has been said based on the lived experiences of marriage migrant women with bureaucracy in Flanders.

This open lecture will take place in a hybrid format:



16:00-16:10: Introduction by BIRMM

16:10-17:00: Lecture by Carla Mascia, Postdoctoral Researcher at Université libre de Bruxelles, GERME

17:00-17:40: Discussion with Amal Miri, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Antwerp - Centre for Migration and Intercultural Studies - department of Sociology

17:40-18:00: Q&A