Project Description

Loving Attachment: Regulating Danish Love Migration (LOVA)

Research Ambition: Scope and Impact

The unfolding European migration crises illustrates the urgent need for new conceptualizations and discursive frameworks to qualify our understandings of how and to what effect different forms of migration are conceptually and politically governed. The LOVA collective research project inve­sti­gates the ways in which the psy­cho­logical and juridical concepts of attachment have come to regu­late Danish love migration. LOVA is structured around four individual and two collaborative projects, which pro­vide synergic, interdisciplinary perspectives on how the concept of attac­hment governs love mi­gra­tion. In eve­ry­day use, the develop­mental psycho­logical concept of attachment (‘tilknyt­ning’) denotes an indivi­du­al’s capacity to form social bonds. Over the past 15 years, how­ever, Danish migration legi­sla­­tion has operationalized the concept of attachment as a means of governing types of migra­tion com­monly understood as involving relationships of love: i.e. family reunification, trans­natio­nal adoption, and trans­national migration marriages.

Even though the con­cept of attach­ment thus functions as an esta­bli­shed organizing tool for love migration to Den­mark, no research exists on the ef­fects of this form of political and social regulation. Likewise, there is a lack of research into the psychological, juridical, and discursive understandings of attachment upon which these re­gu­lations rest. LOVA establishes such know­ledge through the overall research question:

How and to what effect has the concept of attach­ment been operationalized to regulate different forms of love migration in a Danish context from 2000-2015?

This research question thus posits attachment (to the adoptive family, to a family member, and to the nation) as a new (bio)political regulation that forms the basis upon which migration is discussed.


LOVA offers A) a locally situated contribution to the ra­pid­ly growing in­­ter­­national field of affect (emotion) re­search within equality studies, B) ana­lytical me­thods for theorizing love and attachment as specific power technologies utilized within the poli­ti­cal field of migration.

LOVA’s aca­demic impact con­sists of introducing new interdisciplinary tools to res­earch on governmenta­lity, mi­­gra­tion politics. In terms of social im­pact, LOVA aims to challenge public understan­dings of attachment’s function as a mi­gration political tool and to bolster democratic dia­logues on love migration, which plays a key role in the Danish political debate. Through knowledge exchange with NGOs and stake­holders, we seek to qualify the knowledge that forms the basis for policymaking, which could ultimately lead to policy changes.

International Conference and Special Issue

The conference will bring together researchers at the intersection of affect theory, transnational adoption studies, critical race studies, and governmentality studies. In relation to the conference, there will be a CFP and the editing of a publication about Affective Regulations of Migration.