The Reconfiguration of European Boundaries and Borders: Cross-border Marriages from the Perspective of Spouses in Sri Lanka


  • Janine Dahinden University of Neuchâtel, Laboratory for the Study of Social Processes and NCCR on the move
  • Joëlle Moret University of Neuchâtel, Laboratory for the Study of Social Processes
  • Shpresa Jashari University of Neuchâtel, Laboratory for the Study of Social Processes and NCCR on the move



cross-border marriages, border studies, boundary work, politics of belonging


Cross-border marriages between citizens with a migration background and spouses from non-EU countries have been politicised and restricted across Europe. This article simultaneously applies the analytical lenses of bordering and boundary work to this issue and de-centres the perspective by investigating the consequences of these restrictions not on Europe, but on a country of origin – Sri Lanka. We show that a particular symbolic boundary against cross-border marriages in European countries legitimises the externalisation of borders to the country of origin. This has important consequences for the female spouses before they even begin their journey to Europe: it challenges their life aspirations, enhances their economic dependency and precarity and directly impacts the marriage system in Sri Lanka. We argue that this situation creates a form of neo-colonial governmentality that perpetuates historically established forms of Western politics of belonging.


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How to Cite

Dahinden, J., Moret, J., & Jashari, S. (2020). The Reconfiguration of European Boundaries and Borders: Cross-border Marriages from the Perspective of Spouses in Sri Lanka . Migration Letters, 17(4), 511–520.