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Maja Sager.

Maja Sager

Senior lecturer

Maja Sager.

Narratives on Welfare from Its Margins. ‘Clandestine’ Asylum Seekers’ Everyday Experiences in Sweden.


  • Maja Sager

Summary, in English

How do ’clandestine’ asylum seekers experience the Swedish welfare state? How are they located in relation to welfare institutions, civil society, notions of nationhood and gender regimes?

My research project is based on an ethnographic study with ‘clandestine’ asylum seekers (rejected asylum seekers who stay in the country and ‘hide’ from police and authorities to avoid deportation) and asylum rights activists. Through a multi-levelled analysis of the ways ‘clandestinity’ is constructed in relation to citizenship and the welfare state, I want to discuss gendered and racialised notions of boundaries and belonging. I argue that an intersectional approach that includes the intersections of nationality and belonging along with gender, ‘race’/ethnicity and sexuality is crucial for a thorough feminist understanding of the ways the Swedish welfare state frames the conditions for ‘clandestine’ asylum seeking women and men.

In this paper I will specifically explore asylum seekers’ experiences of everyday life in ‘clandestinity’ in order to interrogate hegemonic representations of the Swedish welfare state. What does it mean for feminist theorisation that some women in ‘the most women-friendly state in the world’ don’t have rights to rights such as paid work, reproductive healthcare, protection from domestic violence or public child care? How do feminist and other grassroot movements relate to ‘clandestinity’ and belonging?

Along with the uncertainty and insecurity that characterise the everyday experiences of ‘clandestinity’, I trace an on-going resistance and negotiation on access to rights that involves many and differentiated practices. First, the resistance involved in the very entry and continuous presence of irregular migrants. Second, irregular migrants’ formal, but also informal, organising and network building. And, finally, the different ways irregular migrants find access to welfare services (health care, education, childcare, etc) through family, friends, NGO:s and voluntary networks.


  • Department of Gender Studies

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper


  • Gender Studies

Conference name

7th European Feminist Research Conference

Conference date

2009-06-04 - 2009-06-07

Conference place