The ‘inconfinables’ or the creation of ‘superfluous lives’ in times of crisis




Vulnerability, Borders, COVID-19 lockdown, Italy, France


Gender, class, ethnicity and generation played a determining role in exposure to the COVID-19 virus and in access to care. This translated into differences in communicability, morbidity and mortality. Migrants and ethnic minorities have been over-represented among serious cases, just as they are often also disproportionately affected during natural disasters and crises. We focus on a segment of vulnerable population defined by the French term ‘inconfinables’. Related to the term ‘confinement’, used in France to mean lockdown, the ‘inconfinables’ are those individuals that, due to personal, socio-economic and administrative factors, may not respect the governmental measures proposed to contain the spread of the pandemic. The article presents an comparative analysis of different approaches implemented at the domestic level (in France and Italy) to gain original insights into the practice of lockdown regimes. These insights are used to explore the nexus between ethnic social inequalities, governmental capacity to ensure effective protection of the whole population and human rights.

Author Biographies

Laura Odasso

Laura Odasso is research assistant at the Chaire Migrations et Sociétés of the Collège de France, and Collaborative Institute on Migrations fellow in Paris, France. She is also associate at the Laboratoire Méditerranéen de Sociologie (LAMES, CNRS) at Aix-Marseille University in Aix-en-Provence, and a member of the Structure de recherche interdisciplinaire sur le genre, l’égalité et la sexualité (STRIGES), Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. She received her PhD in sociology from the University of Strasbourg and the University Ca’ Foscari of Venice in 2013. Prior to join the Collège de France, she worked as a temporary lecturer at Aix-Marseille University (2018–2019) and as a postdoctoral researcher funded by the Excellence Initiative of Aix-Marseille University A*MIDEX, a French “Investissements d’Avenir” programme (2016–2018). She was previously awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship by the European Commission to work at the Group for research on Ethnic Relations, Migration and Equality (GERME) at the Université libre de Bruxelles in Belgium on the intra-European comparative project “Awareness and Migration: Organisation for binational families’ Rights Empowerment (AMORE)”. Characterised by a comparative and qualitative intersectional approach, her research situates at the crossroad of sociology of family migration, legal sociology and racial studies.

Elisa Fornalé, World Trade Institute

Elisa Fornalé is Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) Professor at the World Trade Institute (WTI), University of Bern. She is the Principal Investigator of the project “Framing Environmental Degradation, Human Mobility and Human Development as a Matter of Common Concern” (, which is exploring the adverse impacts of climate change through a pilot case study in the Small Pacific Island States. Until April 2019 she was involved in the Horizon 2020 project CLISEL: Climate Security with Local Authorities, which addressed the local dimension of the climate change–security nexus. She is an appointed member of the Advisory Committee of the Platform on Disaster Displacement; a member of the International Law Association (ILA) Committee on International Law and Sea Level Rise; and of the COST Action on Drylands facing change: interdisciplinary research on climate change, food insecurity, political instability (CA 16233). More recently, she took up the position of Gender Coordinator of the Gender Team at the WTI and initiated the Gender Lecture Series – Know the GAP. She holds a law degree from the University of Trento, Italy, and a PhD in law from the University of Palermo, Italy, and she specialises in international law, human rights, migration and environmental humanities.




How to Cite

Odasso , L., & Fornalé, E. (2022). The ‘inconfinables’ or the creation of ‘superfluous lives’ in times of crisis . Migration Letters, 19(6), 739–749.