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Research Access to Polish Border Guards

The PhD Project “Agents of change? (Hi)stories, perspectives, and every-day practices of intra-Schengen border officials” as carried out by PhD Candidate Maryla Klajn got off to a flying start.

The PhD project is part of the NWO-sponsored VIDI project “Getting to the core of ‘Crimmigration’”  coordinated by Prof. dr. Maartje van der Woude (Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance & Society). In addition to Prof. dr. Van der Woude, Ms. Klajn is supervised by Prof. dr. Helene Gundhus (University of Oslo, Norway) and Prof. dr. Joanne van der Leun (Leiden Law School). The PhD Project will examine the lived experiences and daily practices of state agents in charge of intra-Schengen border management in various intra-Schengen border regions. One of these regions is the German/Polish border where research access to the Polish Border Guards – the organization in charge of the monitoring of intra-Schengen mobility – had yet to be secured.

Officers of the Polish Border Guards (Copyright: Adrian Grycuk [CC BY-SA 3.0 PL] / Wikimedia)

Poland, the state of ever-shifting borders and the geo-political stage of too many international conflicts, continues to present a curious case (to learn more about Poland’s historical and recent developments, read Ms. Klajn’s blog. EU member since 2004, and Schengen since 2007/2008, nowadays III Republic of Poland gathers other countries’ attention for some of its internal developments. Its border still presents a political and conceptual challenge, as Poland at this time has the longest external EU land border and multiple internal ones, in the contemporary border mobility discussions usually being perceived as a ‘transit’ country into one of the main European migration destination countries: Germany.

After filing a request to the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Border Guards in Warsaw, the team was granted the ability to look into daily work of agency’s street-level officers working on the internal Schengen borders. The terms and conditions had to be sorted out on the local level, with the local main commands. Early January a team consisting of Ms. Klajn, Professor Gundhus (University of Oslo) and Professor Van der Woude travelled to Poland to discuss the plan in more details. The result of the negotiations is quite unique as the team has secured unprecedented official research access in Poland, with Ms. Klajn being able to spend several months in the field. She will be able to go on ride-alongs with the border guards, sit in on meetings and will be able to interview and observe people, actions and place. The ethnographic fieldwork is set to begin in April 2018.

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