This is a selection of publications. For more information please write to ruben.andersson (at) or visit


No Go World: How fear is redrawing our maps and infecting our politics (forthcoming 2019). Oakland: University of California Press.

Illegality, Inc.: Clandestine migration and the business of bordering Europe (2014). Oakland: University of California Press

Special issues

The return of remoteness: Insecurity, isolation and connectivity in the new world disorder (2019), with M. Saxer. Social Anthropology 27(2): 140-155. Full issue available here.

Academic articles

Time and the migrant Other - American Anthropologist

The bioeconomy and the birth of a ‘new anthropology’ (2022). Cultural Anthropology 37(1): 37-44.

The Timbuktu syndrome (2019). Social Anthropology 27(2): 304-319. (part of special issue on The return of remoteness.

Institutionalized intervention: The ‘bunker politics’ of international aid in Afghanistan (2019), with F. Weigand. Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding (online-first).

Double games: Success, failure and the relocation of risk in fighting terror, drugs and migration (2018), with D. Keen. Political Geography 67: 100-110.

Profits and predation in the human bioeconomy (2018). Public Culture 30(3):413-439.

The price of impact: Reflections on academic outreach amid the ‘refugee crisis’ (2018). Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale 26(2): 222-237.

Here be dragons: Mapping an ethnography of global danger (2016). Current Anthropology 57(6):707-731.

Europe’s failed ‘fight’ against irregular migration: Ethnographic notes on a counterproductive industry (2016). Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42(7):1055-1075.

The global front against migration (2016). Anthropology of this Century 15. (edited version of online book appendix, below.)

Hardwiring the frontier? The politics of security technology in Europe’s ‘fight against illegal migration’ (2016). Security Dialogue 47(1):22-39.

Intervention at risk: The vicious cycle of distance and danger in Mali and Afghanistan (2015), with F. Weigand. Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 9(4): 519-545.

Time and the migrant Other: European border controls and the temporal economics of illegality (2014). American Anthropologist 116(4): 795-809.

A global front: Thoughts on enforcement at the rich world’s borders (2014). Online appendix to Illegality, Inc.

Hunter and prey: Patrolling clandestine migration in the Euro-African borderlands (2014). Anthropological Quarterly 87 (1): 118-149.

A game of risk: Boat migration and the business of bordering Europe (2012). Anthropology Today 28 (6): 7-11.

Frontex y la creación de la frontera euroafricana: Golpeando la valla ilusoria (2011). Revista de Derecho Migratorio y Extranjería 28: 177-191.

Wild man at Europe’s gates: The crafting of clandestines in Spain’s cayuco crisis (2010). Etnofoor 22 (2): 31-49.

The new frontiers of America (2005). Race and Class 46 (3): 28-38.

Book chapters

The anthropological borderlands of global migration (2019). In J. MacClancy (ed) Exotic no more: Anthropology for the contemporary world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Migration (2018). In T. Allen, A. Macdonald and H. Radice (eds) Humanitarianism: A dictionary of concepts. Abingdon: Routledge.

Europe’s failed ‘fight’ against irregular migration (2018). In M. Kaldor, I. Rangelov and S. Selchow (eds) EU global strategy and human security: Rethinking approaches to conflict. Abingdon: Routledge.

In conversation with Sindre Bangstad about migrants, illegality and the bordering of Europe (2017), with S. Bangstad. In S. Bangstad (ed) Anthropology of our times: An edited anthology in public anthropology. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Rescued and caught: The humanitarian-security nexus at Europe’s frontiers (2017). In N. De Genova (ed) The borders of ‘Europe’: Autonomy of migration, tactics of bordering. Durham: Duke University Press.

From radar systems to rickety boats: Borderline ethnography in Europe’s ‘illegality industry’ (2017). In A. Elliot et al (eds) Methodologies of Mobility: Ethnography and Experiment. New York: Berghahn books.


saferworld reportPartners in crime? The impacts of Europe’s outsourced migration controls on peace, stability and rights. Report for Saferworld. July 2016.

Irreguljär migration och Europas gränskontroller: en etnografisk analys. Report for Delmi, Sweden’s Migration Studies Delegation (in Swedish; policy brief in English). May 2016.

Why Europe’s border security approach has failed – and how to change it. Policy paper for the LSE/Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Berlin report on human security. February 2016.

Warum Europas Konzept der Grenzsicherung gescheitert ist. Report for Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. June 2016.

Blog posts

Time to unfence our view of migration - video by The Three-Minute Post

Anthropology at, and of, the limit. Allegra anthropology lab, September 2019.

‘Why should we speak with you?” An interview with Ruben Andersson. Africa is a country, September 2018. Written by Keren Weitzberg.

The return of remoteness: Anthropological takes on insecurity, isolation and connecticity in the new world disorder. Allegra anthropology lab, November 2016. With Martin Saxer.

Brexiteers and the sheer cliff into the unknown. Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale special issue on Brexit, republished by UC Press, July 2016.

Ethnography – what is it and why do we need it? BBC Radio 4, April 2016.

The illegality industry: Notes on Europe’s dangerous border experiment. Oxford Border Criminologies blog, October 2015.

Border control is out of control. Discover Society, February 2015.

It is time to unfence our view of migration. LSE Politics and Policy, September 2014. (in Spanish in The Economy Journal, December 2014).

Illegal, clandestine, irregular: on ways of labelling people. Oxford Border Criminologies blog, September 2014.

Tactics and counter-tactics in Europe’s border control landscape. Oxford Border Criminologies blog, July 2014.

“Illegal” migration is a problem of our own making. Africa at LSE blog, July 2014.

Fear by numbers: on the rise of Europe’s “illegality industry”. Allegra anthropology lab, May 2014.

Border controls: some reflections from Stockholm. Oxford Border Criminologies blog, December 2013.

Click here for more blogposts on this website

Articles in the media

La lucha contra la inmigración irregular / EL PAÍS

The West’s obsession with border security is breeding instability. Foreign Policy, November 2019. With David Keen.

Västvärlden tätar sin fästning. DN Kultur, August 2019 (in Swedish).

How the West is withdrawing into a bunker of its own making. The Conversation, June 2019.

Why warships can’t solve the refugee crisis. IRIN, February 2016.

Who is cashing in on keeping migrants out? New Internationalist, January 2016.

The European Union’s migrant ’emergency’ is entirely of its own making. The Observer/Guardian, August 2015.

Why borders controls are now a global game. IRIN, June 2015.

Destroy the smuggling market, not the boats. IRIN, April 2015.

Europe must stop exporting its migration fears. IRIN, April 2015.

Mare Nostrum and migrant deaths: the humanitarian paradox at Europe’s frontiers. openDemocracy, October 2014.

La doble política de fronteras. El País, October 2014 (in Spanish).

Abolish the ‘illegality industry’ at Europe’s borders. The Financial Times, August 2014.

La lucha contra la inmigración irregular. El País, August 2014 (in Spanish).

Växande gränsindustri förstärker flyktingkrisen. DN Debatt, August 2014 (in Swedish).

EU:s recept är mer av samma misstag. SvD Brännpunkt, October 2013 (in Swedish).

Death of the super model. The Guardian, June 2009.

Art wars. Index on Censorship, 2007.

Multiculturalism at work. openDemocracy, June 2006.

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