Hilda Gustafsson, PhD candidate, Malmö University


In recent years the relatively liberal family reunification policy of Sweden has undergone a notable shift toward a more restrictive approach. Since the Swedish government introduced housing and labor requirements in 2016 and in some cases the removal of the right to reunite altogether, families’ outlook for reunification and time in separation has changed significantly. When family reunification is conditioned by the integration trajectory of the immigrated person in Sweden (the sponsor), pressure also augments from the family abroad.

Indefinite state of waiting

This three-way dynamic between state, family and individual affects the well-being of both families abroad and sponsors in Sweden, as failure to fulfill the requirements leaves them in an indefinite state of waiting while separated. This PhD project aims to explore the mental health implications and experiences of relational waitinghood among refugees and their family members awaiting reunification in/to Sweden. It does so by using Public Health as an entryway, understanding health as a result of social determinants from macro to micro levels such as policies, housing conditions and family relations.


Using a mixed-method approach, the first module of the project analyzes survey data on newly-arrived refugees in Scania and their self-reported health connected to family absence. The second module consists of interviews with families waiting in Turkey and Sweden. Here, waitinghood is explored as a determinant of health for newly-arrived refugees and their families. The second module also explores the inherently contradictory role of the sponsor as both an intermediary, a navigator and a challenger of migration policy and its implications on the well-being of those in waiting.

The project aims to contribute to the field of migration and health while also adding to the growing theoretical body of literature on temporal aspects of migration trajectories.

The seminar will be held in English.

More Migration seminars at mau.se/mim