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Maja Sager.

Maja Sager

Senior lecturer

Maja Sager.

Struggles over Human Smuggling in Court: Challenging National and European Border Regimes


  • Maja Sager
  • Marta Kolankiewicz

Summary, in English

In this paper, we explore the ways in which national and European border regimes have been challenged by cases of “compassionate smuggling” of refugees. We centre the analysis around a Swedish case, in which three film makers accompanied a boy from Syria on his journey through Europe in 2015, while at the same time documenting the journey in a documentary film. After the screening of the film in the Swedish national TV, charges were pressed against the three and they were put on trial accused for human smuggling. The trial attracted a lot of media attention and became an arena for expression of solidarity and mobilization of activists who called for legalization of “compassionate human smuggling”. Our analysis is based on interviews, observations carried out in the court and textual analysis of documents related to the case. The central issue with which this paper is concerned is how the state reproduces racialized border regimes through the legal system and the judiciary. Using critical border and migration theories on the one hand and critical legal studies and feminist legal theories, on the other, we aim at exploring the process of criminalization of migration. At the same time, however, we wish to analyse courts as an arena on which political and social contestations take
place in Sweden and on which how different forms of activism are mobilized.


  • Department of Gender Studies
  • MECW: The Middle East in the Contemporary World

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper: abstract


  • International Migration and Ethnic Relations

Conference name

19th Nordic Migration Research Conference, University of Linköping, Sweden, 15-17 August

Conference date

2018-08-15 - 2018-08-17

Conference place

Linköping, Sweden




  • The courts as an emerging arena for struggles against and about racism