Saara Pellander


Description of research and teaching


• Family reunification and family migration from an intersectional perspective

• Everyday security and migration

• Borders and memory

• Feminist postcolonial perspective to the Nordic welfare state

• Media representations of migration

• Governmentality of migration



My postdoctoral study analyzes how borders are enacted and circumvented in the context of the family. Borders cut right through the intimate lives of transnational families, and familial ties are shaped by the public notion of belonging to a nation state. The research explores the effects of tightened family reunification policies on the lives of transnational families. It uses the theoretical notions of bordering and everyday security. It explores how everyday security is produced, and how insecurities feature in transnational families’ lives. It is based on interviews with migrants who are applying for family reunification in Finland.

The study is carried out as part of the GLASE research consortium,



My doctoral dissertation “Gatekeepers of the Family: Regulating Family Migration to Finland” (passed with distinction) explored the normative underpinnings of family migration in public discourses, in policies and their implementation. At the same time, it investigated the normative frameworks that regulations on family migration create. In my dissertation, I argue that the relationship between family norms and immigration control is mutually co-constitutive: while policymakers and bureaucrats rely on publicly accepted and common-sense understandings of “acceptable” family life, at the same time they themselves contribute to constructing these norms. Overall, the key finding was that in the regulation of family migration, formal and informal axes of exclusion are part of one and the same continuum. They are based on a set of shared assumptions, discourses, and modes of thought that categorize and label migrants. Theoretically, it developed the notion of moral gatekeeping, showing how moral justifications are used to argue for the inclusion or exclusion of certain families, while on the other hand, the gatekeeping of morals works to portray certain families as a threat to Finnish family norms

My thesis supervisors were Prof. Pauli Kettunen, Political History, and Academy research fellow Johanna Kantola, Gender Studies. The opponent was Prof. Eithne Luibhéid, University of Arizona (Gender Studies). 



I have been teaching lectures and courses in English and Finnish at the University of Helsinki, University of Eastern Finland and the University of Turku at both master and bachelor level. My most recent course at the University of Helsinki in spring 2017 was on migration and history (together with Dr. Miika Tervonen).


Latest publications

  1. Everyday bordering in the Nordic countries

    Tervonen, M., Pellander, S. & Yuval-Davis, N., Sep 2018, In : Nordic Journal of Migration Research. 8, 3, p. 139-142 4 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialScientificpeer-review

  2. The ageing body as a bordering site: Narrowing definitions of dependency for elderly family reunification in Finland

    Pellander, S., Sep 2018, In : Nordic Journal of Migration Research. 8, 3, p. 159-166 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

  3. Kontrolloitua kanssakäymistä vailla tekemistä

    Palander, J., Assmuth, L., Pöllänen, P., Pellander, S. M., Sotkasiira, T. & Haverinen, V-S., 29 May 2018, In :

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleGeneral public

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Latest activities

  1. Goethe University Frankfurt

    Saara Pellander (Visiting researcher)
    10 Apr 20185 Jul 2018

    Activity: Visiting an external institution typesAcademic visit to other institution

  2. ESSHC 2018

    Saara Pellander (Speaker: Chair)
    4 Apr 20187 Apr 2018

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesOrganisation and participation in conferences, workshops, courses, seminars

  3. Sosiologipäivät 2018, co-organizer of working group "Transnational families in circulation", with Prof. Laura Assmuth

    Saara Pellander (Speaker: Chair)
    15 Mar 201816 Mar 2018

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesOrganisation and participation in conferences, workshops, courses, seminars

View all (70) »

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