Picture of Ruben Andersson
Ruben Andersson
Photo: José Ángel Molina

E-mail: ruben.andersson@socant.su.se

Ruben Andersson is professor at the Department of International Development, University of Oxford, and an associated researcher at Stockholm University's Department of Social Anthropology. Ruben's research has been concerned with migration, borders and security, with a focus on the West African Sahel and southern Europe. His book Illegality, Inc.: Clandestine migration and the business of bordering Europe (University of California Press 2014), an ethnographic account of Europe’s efforts to halt irregular migration, accompanies border agencies, aid organisations and migrants along the Spanish-African borders. 
The book argues that the ‘fight against irregular migration’ has led to more distress and drama at the borders, which in turns has fuelled a self-reinforcing industry of controls.
Ruben's latest monograph is No Go World: How fear is redrawing our maps and infecting our politics (University of California Press 2019). This book builds on Ruben's more recent research, financed by the AXA Research Fund, and looks comparatively at remote-controlled interventions and the selective withdrawal of international actors from global 'crisis zones'. Taking as its starting point the conflict in Mali, West Africa, it explores how the mapping of danger, the perception of risk and the politics of fear have all contributed to framing and fuelling fraught security, aid and border interventions in the Sahel as well as in other settings such as Somalia, Libya and Afghanistan. 

Selected publications



  • Double Games: Sucess, failure and the relocation of risk in fighting terror, drugs and migration, with David Keen, Political Geography, 67: 100-10.
  • Hic sunt dracones: Cartografía etnográfica del peligro global. Papeles de relaciones ecosociales y cambio global, 142: 13-28.
  • Profits and predation in the bioeconomy of border controlsPublic Culture 30 (3) 413-39.
  • Europe’s failed “fight” against irregular migration. In M Kaldor, I Rangelov and S Selchow (eds) EU global strategy and human security: Rethinking approaches to conflict, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • La lotta all’immigrazione irregolare messa in atto dall’Europa: note etnografiche su un’industria pericolosa. In R Schmitz-Esser (ed) Venezia nel contesto globale, Venice: Centro Tedesco di Studi Veneziani.
  • Migration. In T Allen, A Macdonald and H Radice (eds) Humanitarianism: A dictionary of concepts, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Back to the soil. Comment on S. Moland, Sedentary optics: Static anti-trafficking and mobile victims, Current Anthropology, 59 (2) 115-37.







  • Wild man at Europe’s gates: the crafting of clandestines in Spain’s cayuco crisis. Etnofoor 22(2):31-49.






Research funding

AXA Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2014-2016, for research project on risk in international interventions, hosted at LSE.