Loops of Violence(s) Within Europe’s Governance of Migration in Libya, Italy, Greece, and Belgium

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Loops of Violence(s) Within Europe’s Governance of Migration in Libya, Italy, Greece, and Belgium


  • Giacomo Orsini Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University, Belgium / Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Marina Rota Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University, Belgium / Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Océane Uzureau Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University, Belgium / Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Malte Behrendt Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University, Belgium / Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Sarah Adeyinka Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University, Belgium / Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Ine Lietaert Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University, Belgium / Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Ilse Derluyn Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University, Belgium / Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees, Ghent University, Belgium


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Abstract:  Studies have reported alarmingly high rates of traumatic experiences for refugee populations. While nearly all refugees experienced trauma in their country of origin, a vast majority of those seeking protection abroad also face (extreme) violence during their journeys and once in the country of destination. By concentrating on the migratory experiences of about 300 unaccompanied minors that we approached in Libya, Italy, Greece, and Belgium, this article analyses how different forms of violence are inflicted on these young migrants while moving to Europe. By concentrating on personal accounts of (recurrent) interactions with the EU migration and border management tools, we reveal the structural violence within the day-to-day governance of migration. Often framed as unintended or accidental, the article discusses how violence is instead ubiquitous, as it is systematically inflicted on migrants—including unaccompanied minors—in the form of repeated series of violent events or “loops of violence.” Importantly, such manifestations of violence are perpetrated by key institutional and non-institutional actors in the “migration industry” who are (in)directly involved in managing migration both inside and outside of the EU. Conceptually, we rely on K. E. Dempsey’s political geography of the different typologies of violence within Europe’s governance of migration and asylum and use it to concentrate on key transitional phases/fractures in migratory trajectories—i.e., as unaccompanied young migrants (try to) cross international borders and legal boundaries.

Keywords:  border; Europe; governance; migration; unaccompanied minors; violence

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v10i2.5183


© Giacomo Orsini, Marina Rota, Océane Uzureau, Malte Behrendt, Sarah Adeyinka, Ine Lietaert, Ilse Derluyn. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.