Betty de Hart has been granted NWO Open Competition Application

The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) awarded the open competition application by professor of transnational families and migration law Betty de Hart at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Her research is titled: Love, sex, faith. The politics of emotion in migration law.

With the NWO Open Competition-SSH, NWO Social Sciences and Humanities wants to offer researchers the opportunity to carry out research into a subject of their own choosing without any thematic constraints. The funding instrument aims to serve a broader group of researchers in different stages of their academic careers.

The politics of emotion in migration law
How to decide whether a couple is genuinely in love, a person is truly gay or believes in Jesus? How can one objectively determine human emotions? This is the dilemma that those involved in immigration procedures face on a daily basis and that is central in this project. This project posits the hypothesis that emotion increasingly pervades migration law through the politics of emotion, protecting the national sovereignty of states to control migration. The research will be of socio-legal nature and takes together family migration and asylum cases: suspected marriages of convenience, and asylum claims based on sexual orientation and religious conversion to explore how the politics of emotion functions as an instrument of inclusion and exclusion in migration control.

Scientific and societal impact

The dilemma of the objective assessment of human emotions, that is at the heart of this project, is a complex issue that is of concern to everyone in immigration procedures, both in family migration and asylum policies, but also of concern to the wider academic, and lay audience. It is about the very intimate emotions linked to love, sex and faith of applicants while, at the same time, such emotions, if they are not considered ‘genuine’, may be seen as a threat to the sovereign right of states to control migration and ultimately to the European Union as such. Marriages of convenience and asylum claims of LGBTI and religious converts have therefore been the topic of heated debate both at the national, European and international level. Thus, although the empirical research will be conducted in the Netherlands, its results are relevant for a wider, European and international academic public, as well as stakeholders in immigration procedures.