Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global Governance

Program Name/Specialization

Global Justice and Human Rights


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Dr. Kim Rygiel

Advisor Role


Second Advisor

Dr. Suzan Ilcan

Third Advisor

Dr. Jasmin Habib


This dissertation examines the global crisis of protection through the lens of the Syrian refugee crisis and the particular experiences of refugees’ journeys to Sweden.

In doing so, the dissertation challenges the dominant narratives that represent refugees either as victims who deserve aid in their regions, or as threats when they exert their agency and journey towards the global north. In the same vein, the dissertation problematizes the dominant narrative of the “European crisis of migration” and proposes that the “unauthorized” arrivals of refugees in Europe are reflections of a global crisis of protection, a crisis that develops as a result of a failing protection regime and bordering practices against refugees from the global south. These practices are based to a large degree on government policies designed to contain refugees in their regions and deter them from reaching the states of the global north where they believe they can have better access to rights. The dissertation proposes that such practices do not deter desperate refugees from arriving in the global north, but rather increase the “human cost” (Spijkerboer, 2007) of their journeys by reducing the legal and safe pathways and forcing refugees into illegality and precarity.

The dissertation examines the journeys of refugees from Syria towards Sweden. These refugees escaped the war in their homeland, only to find themselves trapped between a failing protection regime and a global system of border controls. Those who decide to journey towards other destinations are transformed from being refugees, who deserve protection, into “irregular migrants”, who are criminalized for challenging the regime of borders. Due to such precarity and illegality, refugees arrive at their intended destinations with a heavy load of pain, fear, and confusion, which influences their sense of identity and belonging and affects their ability to integrate into their new localities.

Informed by the knowledge of refugees and through their stories, the dissertation develops a conceptual framework of the refugee journey. It addresses the journey as an act of survival and resistance that is messy and complex and involves high degrees of agency but also precarity, which entails a transformative impact on a refugee’s role, positionality, and identity.

The dissertation centralizes refugees as the prime source of knowledge and presents them as real individuals with various backgrounds and aspirations. It focuses on people’s own experiences and stories which are often left out of policymaking, and absent from high-level discussions between government leaders, policymakers, and international organizations including the United Nations.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season