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Border Criminologies: The Criminalization of Mobility


Admission requirements

This course is also available to students of the Honours College Law (click here to go to the Crime and Migration course description for Honours College Law students).


Criminologists have a long tradition of studying the dynamics of crime and migration and, in so doing, the challenges of increased mobility in a globalized world. Mobility, migration and the uncertainties of a 'world in motion' are also increasingly politicized and mediatized and, as a result, in both political and public discourse links are easily made between migration and (organized) crime. Whether not these links are justified or not - as we do see that restrictive migration policies in many Western countries have fostered an increase in what is generally referred to as migration crime e.g. unauthorized migration, human smuggling, and human trafficking - this intertwinement has also contributed to the undesirable global trend of crimmigration. On the one hand immigration law violations are increasingly addressed as criminal offenses, on the other hand immigration law is also increasingly used as an instrument of crime control: rather than being rehabilitated and re-integrated in the country of residence, non-citizen criminals may lose their residence permits, in order to be excluded from the territory with the help of immigration law. Rising rates of immigration detention, an increase in the number of declared ‘undesirable aliens’ are some manifestations of the crimmigration-trend. An important aspect of the crimmigration trend, or the current debates on crime and migration, is the notion of 'othering'. By depicting immigrants as dangerous 'others' who are trying to take advantage of the welfare state and/ or who are to be seen as a risk for the national security and national identity of - mostly - Western Liberal Democracies, exclusionary bordering practies are being implemented and supported. Although these dynamics have become painfully clear as a result of the so-called European Migration crisis, the relationship between migration and borders has always been a tense one.

In this course, while drawing on the field known as "border criminology" we will addres the challenging relationship between crime and migration in a world in motion. Students will first be introduced to the theoretical key concepts in border criminology such as: illegality, deportability, exclusion/inclusion, border performativity, borders and boundaries, crimmigration, welfare chauvinism, the minority threat hypothesis, border spectacle, transnationalism, border reconstruction projects, etc.

In the second part of the course, the key topics will be discussed through empirical and theoretical research carried out in different context. Examples of these topics are:

  • Immigration and border policing in and outside of Europe

  • Administrative detention & deportation

  • Penal Nationalism & welfare chauvinism

  • The externalization of borders

The approach developed in the course sees the law, policies, and discourses as entranched factors in driving the mechanisms of border control. Specific importance will be given to the role of gender, class, and race in the law-making and law-enforcement activities.

Course objectives

Achievement levels:
The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:

  • Describe and critically analyze the interplay between crime control and migration control as well as the underlying phenomena of crime and migration in different national contexts, both in theory and in practice;

  • Summarize reflections on the literature and classes on the relation between the various theoretical concepts into concept maps;

  • Combine their knowledge of different contexts and disciplinary approaches when analysing immigration and border policies.

  • Analyze critically the development, implementation and enforcement of contemporary policies of immigration border control while specifically paying attention to effects on the (perceived) legitimacy of the state and state actors as well as on the lived experiences of immigrant communities .

  • Identify and further explore a particular national or international subtheme related to the field of border criminologies and/or crimmigration and its relation to the wider societal context on the basis of the literature;


Check MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

Not applicable.

Not applicable.

Other methods of instruction

  • Description: Interactive classes of 3 hours in which work group assignments and lecturing alternate

  • Number of (3 hour) instructions: 6

  • Names of instructors: Amalia Campos Delgado and Neske Baerwaldt with potential additional guest lecturers

  • Required preparation by students: Reading the prescribed literature and making assignments

Assessment method

Examination forms

  • Portfolio of written assignments both made before and during class (50% of grade)

  • Paper (50% of grade)

  • Students have to pass all the aspects of the course (grade > 5,5) in time in order to get their final grade.

  • All grades only hold for the present academic year.

  • If the overall grade of the assignments is below 5,5 there is the opportunity to retake one of the assignments. If the grade for the paper is below 5,5 there is the option to retake the paper based on the received feedback.

Submission procedures
Turn it in (Brightspace) and hardcopy.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

  • Dario Melossi (2015), Crime, Punishment and Migration. Los Angeles: Sage.

  • Additional articles and chapters that will be distributed through Brightspace

Course information guide:
Will be distributed through Brightspace.


Check the website under “course and exam enrollment” for information on how to register for the course.
Exchange students can register through the online registration system of the International Office.

Contact details

  • Coordinators: Dr. A.E. Campos Delgado and Neske Baerwaldt

  • Work address: Steenschuur 25, room A 1.051

  • Contact information: Secretariat Van Vollenhoven Institute

  • Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 7260

  • Email: +


  • Institute: Interdisciplinary Study of the Law

  • Department: Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance & Society

  • Room number secretary: B1.14

  • Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 9.00 - 12.30 and 13.30 - 16.00

  • Telephone number secretary: +31 (0)71 527 7260

  • Email:


In case of (corona)restrictions imposed by the government, this course description is subject to change.