Patricia Mindus

Uppsala University, Department of Philosophy
Paris IAS
10 months

Research Interests: Migration and Citizenship Studies, Legal Realism

Research Project

Towards a Realist Theory of Migration Law

Migration law regulates changes in a person’s legal position or status vis-à-vis one or more state(s) or political communities, and concerns the right to stay in a country, to be protected from deportation, to be reunited with family members to name only some of the many legal positions that determine a person’s migration status. Other such legal positions concern the individual’s working life and socio-economic social life in general. The concept of status in law is a one of which we may offer an empirical explanation, even if it is not itself an empirical concept. Philosophers say that we exercise our deontic power by creating different forms of statuses through constitutive rules. Indeed, legal statuses concern what philosophers today often call institutional facts, where a function is attributed to something that does not have this function in virtue of its empirical properties. This project builds on these two insights in order to question received wisdom concerning the nature of migration, the epistemic grounds behind assumptions concerning central notions in migration law such as residence, stay, sojourn, abode, domicile etc, with the view to offer arguably more justified views. The project explores the distinction between the movement of bodies in space and the institutional facts governing migration related statuses so as to shed new light on how law constitutes a person’s status as a migrant. The aim is to offer a fresh take on migration theory with relevance for law and policy.


Patricia Mindus is Professor of Practical Philosophy at Uppsala University in Sweden. She has an interest in legal realism, democratic theory and migration. Signature contributions include the functionalist theory of citizenship and the theory of migration as institutional fact. She is Wallenberg Academy Fellow (2014-24), and served as project leader of the research program Higher Education and Democracy funded by Uppsala University SSH area, as the Director of Uppsala Forum for democracy, peace and justice, and as the President of the Swedish IVR. In 2023, she also serves as associated director of studies at the Fondation Maison Science de l’Homme.