Sarah Nimführ
ÖAW/IFK_Junior Fellow

Duration of fellowship
01. October 2016 bis 30. June 2017

Sarah Nimführ


Betwixt and Between. An Ethnological Study of the Life Situation of Non-deportable Refugees in Malta.


Due to various legal and practical factors the majority of rejected asylum seekers in Malta cannot be deported. Non-deportable migrants are in a legal grey area: they are not considered official members of the receiving state, cannot be deported, and cannot leave the country independently. They receive no formal residency status, which can lead to a situation in which they have limited access to employment, basic services, and medical care for several years. Using a micro analytical perspective, I ask how the lives of migrants are impacted when the decision to deport an individual remains unrealized. How do they manage everyday life? What strategies do they apply in the areas of conflict between autonomy and heteronomy? Following the ethnographic border regime analysis, I link different levels of analysis and examine interactions of various actors in migration-related activities.


After studying empirical cultural science and educational science in Tübingen, Sarah Nimfuhr initially worked as an integration consultant at the Vienna Red Cross, and then as a scientific project assistant at the Institute for Political Science in Vienna. She has been a DOC fellow of the Austrian Academy of Sciences since 2016, as well as a lecturer at the Institute for European Ethnology at the University of Vienna.


gem. mit Laura Otto und Gabriel Samateh „Gerettet, aber nicht angekommen. Von Geflüchteten in Malta“, in: Sabine Hess, Bernd Kasparek et al. (Hg.), Der lange Sommer der Migration. Grenzregime III, Berlin/Hamburg 2017, S. 137-150; „Living Liminality. Ethnological insights into the life situation of non-deportable refugees in Malta“, in: Österreichische Zeitschrift für Volkskunde, Ausgabe 70/119, H. 3+4, 2016; „'Living in Malta without documents is like walking in a roundabout all the time‘. Nicht abschiebbare Geflüchtete zwischen Selbstermächtigung und Schutzlosigkeit“, in: Zeitung GEDENKDIENST, Ausgabe 1/16, 2016, S. 4-5.

"Malta ist wie ein Gefängnis"

Gastbeitrag von IFK_Junior Fellow Sarah Nimführ für science.orf.at zur Praxis der Nichtabschiebbarkeit von Flüchtlingen auf Malta.

  • Lecture
Sarah Nimführ

Auf der Route von Afrika nach Europa stellen Inseln wie Lampedusa, Sizilien, die Kanaren und Malta meist ein Sprungbrett in den Schengen-Raum dar. Malta ist jedoch nicht zwangsläufig Wunschdestination für Geflüchtete, da deren Bewegungsfreiheit aufgrund des Inselstaates eingeschränkt ist. Im Fokus des Vortrags stehen Mobilitäten auf und von der Insel.