The winner of the 2015 IMISCOE – Maria Ionnis Baganha Dissertation Award is Dr. Erik Vickstrom

His dissertation entitled “The Production and Consequence of migrant Irregularity: Senegalese in France, Italy and Spain”, was defended at Princeton University in September 2013. The award ceremony took place during the upcoming IMISCOE conference in Geneva, on Friday, June 26.

Using the MAFE dataset as empirical evidence, this dissertation focuses on the migratory paths of Senegalese irregular migrants in three different European countries providing for the first time results of the complex pathway of irregular statuses in multiple contexts of reception.

The contribution and originality of the thesis is manifold. As one of the evaluators points out, Erik Vickstrom’s fills an important research gap in the understanding of the functioning mechanisms of African migration systems and the corresponding inclusion patterns in Europe on the other. As well as providing an important analysis of Senegalese migration whose features and complexities are often under-appreciated, through its skilful use of a still underutilized dataset, it gives a solid answer to some long-standing research puzzles. Key dimensions of analysis such as the way in which pathways of irregularity are broken down into several types, the contextual variables shaping irregularity/regularity and its various combinations, the gendered channels of access to the labour markets of the host countries and the types of employment which result, as well as the multidimensional treatment of the interlinkages between irregularity and transnationalism constitute a thesis of great strength and originality.  In addition, it represent a further step in the analysis of circular and return patterns, which are of high interest for the current EU global migration approach. By testing the significance of irregular statuses for a variety of migration-related activities, it also contributes to make legal status a standard variable across migration studies.

Its comparative approach, the thoroughly nuanced analysis of concepts and theories, the cutting-edge powerful statistical analyses of the unique MAFE dataset and the wide ranging incorporation of qualitative research on the topic as well as the clarity and logic of its composition all combine to make it a brilliant thesis which, as all the evaluators agree in saying, is one of the best they have ever read.

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