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GSSC Seminar Series
11 July 2023


Governing and externalizing migration controls through development programs in Egypt

Gerda Heck (Department of Sociology, Egyptology and Anthropology / The American University in Cairo)



Since the start of 2000, development aid, distributed by by political entities, such as the European Union, has become more and more entangled with border externalization policies. Responding to the increased arrival of migrants in Europe via the Mediterranean in 2015, the EU formed the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), earmarking 3.4 billion Euros to fight the root causes of irregular migration”on the African Continent.

Within the scope of EUTF, Egypt receives major funds from the program. Drawing on „ethnographic border regime analysis, I examine the complex and contradictory interplay between the European Union and Egypt, as well as the impact of European funded educational and vocational training, livelihood projects and other development programs in Egypt. In particular, I will look at the impact of the recently introduced development programs meant to assist migrants and refugees in Egypt under the EUTF. I analyze how these initiatives are shaping and transforming the political, the humanitarian, as well the migratory landscape in Egypt. The presentation is based on an explorative ethnography, conducted in the Spring of 2020, the Summer of 2021 and the Fall of 2022.


Gerda Heck is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Egyptology and Anthropology and the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies (CMRS) at The American University in Cairo. Her academic work and research focus on migration and border regimes, urban studies, Migration governance and European externalization politics, migrant networks, organizing, and infrastructures, gender and migration, religion and new concepts of citizenship. She has conducted research in Brazil, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, France, Ghana, Germany, Morocco, Turkey and the USA. From September 2021 till January 2022  she was  a visiting scholar within the scope of the BECHS-Africa Fellowship at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana. Within the scope of the DAAD exchange project Dialog on Migration Governance in the Euro-Mediterranean Region (DiaMiGo), she is Principal Investigator for the American University in Cairo. She is a member of kritnet: Network for Critical Migration- and Border-Regime Research.