Dr Ruben Andersson | University of Oxford

Dr Ruben Andersson

Associate Professor of Migration and Development, Oxford Department of International Development and the International Migration Institute


Ruben Andersson is an anthropologist working on 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, 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’, rather than curtailing movement, has led to more distress and drama at the borders, which in turns has fuelled a self-reinforcing industry of controls.

Ruben’s current project, The risk crucible: managing multiple insecurities in the western Sahel, looks comparatively at remote-controlled interventions and the partial withdrawal of international actors from global crisis zones, taking as its starting point the conflict in Mali, West Africa, and the confluence of risks which international interveners are dealing with there – including, besides security and livelihoods, the perceived ‘risk’ of migration.


  • Migration, especially from sub-Saharan Africa
  • Undocumented/irregular migration
  • Border security and migration controls
  • Europe (especially Spain) and West Africa (Senegal, Mali)
  • Anthropology of migration and security

Media experience

Ruben has experience of working with print and broadcast media in English, Spanish and Swedish.


Swedish, English, Spanish (fluent), French (intermediate)