Drotbohm, Heike (forthcoming) Flucht im Transitraum Zentralamerika. In: Marcel Berlinghoff, Birgit Glorius, J. Olaf Kleist & Tabea Scharrer (eds.): Handbuch der Flucht- und Flüchtlingsforschung. Baden Baden: Nomos.
Drotbohm, Heike & Nanneke Winters (2021) A shifting yet grounded transnational social field: Interplays of displacement and emplacement in African migrant trajectories across Central America. Population, Space and Place. doi 10.1002/psp.2421

Abstract: In this article, we draw on the volatile complexity of African migrant trajectories in Central America to broaden the scope of transnational scholarship. These trajectories are characterised by mobilities as well as immobilities, taking shape in particular local contexts. By focusing on the interplays between displacement and emplacement that are part of these trajectories, we aim to increase our understanding of the extent to which migrants still ‘on the move’ experience both temporal embeddedness and cross-border connectedness, thereby acknowledging and unravelling transnational lives as they ‘touch the ground’ en route. To do so, we build on long-standing scholarly commitments in Central and South America and recent field research in Costa Rica. We go into selected empirical cases to discuss the dynamics of travelling, dwelling and travelling again as part of African migrant trajectories across Central America. We then explore the value of a ‘shifting’ transnational social field perspective and indicate some challenges for future trajectory research.
Drotbohm, Heike & Nanneke Winters (2020) The Event in Migrant Categorization: Exploring Eventfulness Across the Americas. Vibrant. Virtual Brazilian Anthropology 17.

Abstract: The categories that define people on the move must be understood as unstable, contingent, and provisional processes. This paper contributes to a growing body of scholarship that explores the lived complexities of migrant categorization and their social implications. Based on fieldwork in Brazil and Central America, the paper investigates the processual character of categorization by intertwining temporal and spatial dimensions, focusing on specific events to understand the occasions, circumstances, and intentions that bring about adapted or entirely new categories. An eventful notion of categorization demonstrates not only how categories come into being but also how categories remain connected to particular events that are recognized or produced in response to movement. These categories stick to the identity of a subject in transit, confirming and solidifying it; however, they can also challenge the subject’s legal stability, generating new insecurities and (im-)mobilities.
Guevara González, Yaatsil & Lestón, Alexandra (2020) “There is nothing to do but wait until all of this is over”: Coronavirus and Central American Refugees in Mexico, in: FluchtsforschungsBlog Netzwerk Fluchtforschung.
Winters, Nanneke & Elena Reichl (2020) Pay and go? Transit migration regimes and migrant navigation in Central America. Blog post for Border Criminologies, 9 April 2020.
Guevara González, Yaatsil (2019) “Inmovilidades en tránsito: Vida cotidiana de migrantes indocumentados y refugiados en Tenosique, Tabasco”. In: Arriola Vega, Luis A; Enrique Coraza (Eds.) Vientos y ráfagas de un Sur Global. El Colegio de la Frontera Sur. México.

Abstract: Due to the border externalization from the United States toward Mexico, the control and repression of irregularized migrants in transit through Mexico, mainly from Central America, has intensified. The implementation of migration control policies on Mexico's southern border is part of this process. Their main objective is to curb the "irregular" migratory flows coming from Central and South America. As a result, in some cities located along Mexico's southern border, temporary settlements of migrants and refugees confined in their transit have begun to emerge. There is a reconfiguration in the temporalities of their mobility, including long phases of permanence in Mexico. In this article, I discuss how binational migration policies between Mexico and the United States have collaterally promoted the emergence of empowered subjects who exercise and recreate temporary life tactics and strategies during their immobility phases in Mexican territory. I analyze the dynamics of (in)mobility that have emerged at the local level among migrants and other actors as a result of this externalization of borders. The data provided in this contribution come from a participatory ethnographic study carried out during eight months at the border of Tenosique, Tabasco, Mexico and at "La 72, Hogar-Refugio para personas migrantes".
Winters, Nanneke (2019) Haciendo-lugar en tránsito. Reflexión sobre la migración africana y trabajo de campo en Darién, Panamá. REMHU, Revista Interdisciplinar da Mobilidade Humana 27 (56).
Winters, Nanneke & Franziska Reiffen (2019) Haciendo-lugar vía huellas y apegos: las personas migrantes africanas y sus experiencias de movilidad, inmovilidad e inserción local en América Latina. REMHU, Revista Interdisciplinar da Mobilidade Humana (56).

Abstract: Este artículo introductorio al dossier temático traza los conocimientos y estudios existentes sobre la actual migración africana subsahariana hacia y por América Latina, y propone una perspectiva del haciendo-lugar para su análisis. Tal enfoque analítico permite incluir y vincular las experiencias y prácticas de las personas migrantes con una mirada más estructural que tiene en cuenta regímenes de movilidad y la industria de la migración. Más allá de una victimización o esencialización de las personas migrantes africanas, así se puede llegar a una mejor comprensión de sus compromisos de corta o larga duración con los lugares en los cuales habitan o que atraviesan en sus trayectorias; compromisos que afectan y se desarrollan tanto a un nivel material como social y emocional.
Winters, Nanneke & Cynthia Mora Izaguirre (2019) Es cosa suya: Entanglements of border externalization and African transit migration in northern Costa Rica. Comparative Migration Studies 7 (27).

Abstract: Starting from the idea that border externalization – understood as the spatial and institutional stretching of borders – is enmeshed with the highly contextual humanitarian and securitarian dynamics of migrant trajectories, this article addresses the reach of border externalization tentacles in Costa Rica. Although Costa Rica does not formally engage in border externalization agreements, it is located in a region characterized by transit migration and transnational securitization pressures. Moreover, externalization efforts across the Atlantic have contributed to a relatively new presence of so-called extra-continental migrants. Given these circumstances, we aim to interrogate the ways in which border externalization plays a role in Costa Rica’s discourses, policies and practices of migration management. We do so by analysing a migrant reception centre in the northern Costa Rica border region, and by focusing on African transit migration. Our analysis is based on exploratory field research at the centre as well as on long-term migration research in Central America. Building on these empirical explorations and the theoretical notions of mobility regimes, transit and arterial borders, the article finds that Costa Rica’s identity as a ‘humanitarian transit country’ – as enacted in the migrant reception centre – both reproduces and challenges border externalization. While moving towards increased securitization of migration and an internalization of its border, Costa Rica also distinguishes itself from neighbouring countries by emphasizing the care it extends to African migrants, in practice enabling these migrants to move further north. Based on these findings, the article argues for a deeper appreciation of the role of local-regional histories, perceptions, rivalries, linkages and strategies of migration management. This allows for a better grip of the scope and shape of border externalization across a diversity of migration landscapes.
Winters, Nanneke (2018) Redrawing the Central American Migrant Caravan: How Other (African) Trajectories Cross Its Path. Blog post for Border Criminologies, 6 November 2018.
Drotbohm, Heike & Nanneke Winters (2018) Transnational lives en route. African trajectories of displacement and emplacement across Central America. Working Papers of the Department of Anthropology and African Studies, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, 175.

Abstract: Recent discussions of migrant trajectories or journeys indicate that focusing on circumscribed origins and destination settings is not enough for understanding contemporary transnational lives. The many migrants that are en route for extended periods of time, especially in the so-called Global South, and the recognition that their increasingly complex trajectories cannot be regarded as mere empty transit space, disconnected from life elsewhere, present us with the challenge to broaden the transnational scope. Drawing inspiration from the recent increase of African migrants in Central America, this paper addresses volatile transnational lives by focusing on the dynamics between displacements and emplacements. Whereas even the more sophisticated notions of displacement often evoke images of passivity and being ‘cut off’, articulations of emplacement emphasize how ‘the displaced’ also actively re-embed and reshape their cross-border lives locally. Thus, migrants engage in dynamics of smuggling, state surveillance, humanitarian assistance, daily consumption, employment, imagining and planning in the (temporary) host localities of their trajectory. To what extent are transnational lives made possible, lived and contested in such contexts of forced semi-permanence or deliberate temporality? How does a transnational perspective help us understand the experiences of these migrants and the dynamics of these localities? How does a focus on ever evolving trajectories enrich our understanding of how transnational lives are shaped? This paper introduces a theoretical perspective on the simultaneous articulation of displacement and emplacement through migrant trajectories, which will allow us to acknowledge and unravel transnational lives as they ‘touch the ground’ en route.


/ “The governance of migrant reception and more-than-local stories in southern Costa Rica.” Presented at REFUGOV conference Camps across the world: global and local perspectives, April 2021, Luxembourg.

/ “Navigating transit infrastructures in Central America.” Presented at the Anthropology and Geography: Dialogues Past, Present and Future conference of the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI), September 2020, London

/ “Following or othering? Portraying migrant trajectories and social navigation in Central America.” Presented at the 16th EASA Biennial Conference, July 2020, Lisbon

/ “(E)merging categories: the production of forced mobility and immobility in Brazil and Central America.” Presented at ‘The End of Negotiations?’ German Anthropological Association Conference September-October 2019, Konstanz.

/ “Places of im/mobility: infrastructures and node-like shelters in African migrant trajectories through Central America.” Presented at ‘Changing Climates: Struggle, Collaboration, and Justice.’ AAA/CASCA Meeting, November 2019, Vancouver.

/ “Transnational Lives en Route: African Trajectories of Displacement and Emplacement across Central America.” Presented at ‘Needs and Care Practices for Refugees and Migrants’, 1st Annual CESSMIR Conference, September 2018, Ghent.

/ “Transitory emplacements. The volatility of African migrant trajectories in Costa Rica.” Presented at ‘Staying, Moving, Settling’, 15th EASA Biennial Conference, August 2018, Stockholm.

/ “Experiencias actuales de migrantes y refugiados africanos en América Latina.” Panel (with Franziska Reiffen) at ‘Universality and particularism in the Americas’, 56 ICA International Congress of Americanists, July 2018, Salamanca.

/ “Es cosa suya: African migrants’ trajectories and temporary presence in La Cruz, Costa Rica.” Presented at ‘Latin American Studies in a Globalized World’, XXXVI International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), May 2018, Barcelona.

/ “Transnational lives en route: African trajectories of displacement and emplacement across Latin America.” Presented at ‘Transnational Lives: Economies, Bureaucracies, and Desires’, Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) Workshop, January 2018, Oslo.