PUBLI : Laura Odasso, « Mixed-status informal couples in a cascading crisis. Immobilisation, mobilisation, and normalisation ? », Migration Studies, 2023


In France, the COVID-19 pandemic was expe­rienced as a casca­ding crisis, with its effects rippling out beyond its initial health domain. Due to the lock­down and ban on travel, the closure of borders, and the slow­down of admi­nis­tra­tive services, the pandemic had an unan­ti­ci­pated effect on trans­na­tional French/​foreign couples lacking formal legal rela­tion­ship status, causing sepa­ra­tion and uncer­tainty. Over­lap­ping health and migra­tion concerns gene­rated a new specific border regime, which rein­forced the already exis­ting ‘deser­vin­gness’ criteria for seeking to move to and inte­grate into the nation. The imposed geogra­phical and admi­nis­tra­tive immo­bi­li­sa­tion led to some couples crea­ting online self-help commu­ni­ties, which offered emotional support and shared coping stra­te­gies for couples caught in the dead­lock. These commu­ni­ties have given the chal­lenges faced by mixed-status couples fresh visi­bi­lity. Drawing on an ethno­graphy conducted in four online commu­ni­ties, in-depth inter­views with trans­na­tional couples, and an analysis of poli­tico-juri­dical mate­rials and grey lite­ra­ture, this article focuses on marriage beco­ming theoption for French/​foreign couples seeking the right to reunite in France during an uncer­tain period. More preci­sely, by using crisis studies to frame the impact of the pandemic and arti­cu­la­ting the scho­lar­ship on socio-legal and inti­mate citi­zen­ship, the expe­riences of such couples can be unders­tood as specific processes in legal conscious­ness, produ­cing acts of inti­mate citi­zen­ship. This pers­pec­tive helps demons­trate how the pandemic empha­sised the poli­cing of migrant couples, and how insti­tu­tional and legal oppor­tu­ni­ties narrowed the choices avai­lable to such couples, redu­cing the poten­tial of change that is gene­rally inherent in crises.

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