Conference – Family Migration: Regulation or Resistance?

  • Date: Thursday 26th September 2013
  • Address: Barn 2, Middlesex University, The Burroughs, London NW4 4BT
  • Time: 9.30 – 5.00


Family migration has become the focus for increased scrutiny and control in many European countries. It is especially problematic for governments because family migrants cannot be selected for skills and employability in the same way as labour migrants and their control engages the civic and legal rights of citizens and residents already within the state. In many states, family migration is associated with continued transnational family life amongst populations of immigrant descent in ways that are perceived to hinder these communities’ participation in the labour market and civil society and to perpetuate family life norms imported, inappropriately many would say, from the region of origin. This increasingly critical scrutiny has coincided with the rejection in many countries of multiculturalism, perceived to have fostered rather than decreased social divisions, and the reassertion of a core national identity.

As European states have sought to restrict entry to those migrants perceived to have the potential to contribute economically and integrate rapidly, family migration has come under increasing pressure with many states introducing tests of language and social knowledge before and after entry, higher minimum ages for entry for marriage sponsors and spouses, increased financial requirements and evidence of commitment to presumed national or European values.

This interdisciplinary conference brings together scholars and activists to discuss how regulatory regimes are changing within the UK and across Europe, and how families affected by these changes are responding, whether through compliance, legal challenge, strategic manoeuvring or recourse to alternative routes of entry, particularly under EU law.  The conference will also present the results of a study, carried out by Middlesex University and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, comparing spousal regulation across European states and questioning the extent of similarity and divergence in forms of regulation. Other speakers will also discuss research findings from recent projects.

There is no charge to attend the conference but places are limited. To reserve a place, please contact Christiana Rose (




9.30-10.00:          Coffee and registration

10.00-10.15:        Welcome and introduction to the conference

Part 1: Regulating spousal migration: reporting on the Nuffield project

10.15-10.30:        Introduction to the Nuffield Project  – Dr Helena Wray (Middlesex University)

10.30-11.30:        Regulating spousal migration in Europe: similarities and divergences – Agnes Agoston and Jocelyn Hutton (Middlesex University)

11.30-12.00:        Coffee

12.00-12.45:        What do states regulate when they regulate spousal migration? Dr Helena Wray (Middlesex University)

 12.45 -13.45:      Lunch

Part 2: Responses to regulation

13.45 -15.15:       Gendered responses  to family regulations in Europe – Professor Eleonore Kofman (Middlesex University)

Social Engineering and Strategic Responses to the Danish regulation of transnational marriage migration 2002-2012 -Dr Mikkel Rytter (Aarhus University)

15.00-15.30:        Tea

15.30- 17.00:       The UK experience – Eleanor Sibley (AIRE Centre, London) and Ruth Grove-White (Migrant Rights Network, London)

17.00:                 Close of conference


Further links

Link to biographies  of presenters

Divided families – Ruth Grove-White

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