Félicien de HEUSCH's thesis defence


Tuesday 28th November
Salle Lumière
Place du 20 Août 7
4000 Liège (A live transmission will be broadcast via Youtube)
See the map

The Faculty of Social Sciences is pleased to invite you to the defense of Mr. Félicien de HEUSCH's thesis for a Doctorate in Political and Social Sciences

The thesis is entitled:

"Mobilising for and through the dead: an ethnography of the transnational management of the death of Senegalese migrants in Europe"


This doctoral thesis focuses on how the dead mobilize the living, but also how the living mobilize and administer the dead. It is interested in the multiple interpretations that are given to the deaths, those deaths that particularly disturb the living. This is the case of death in migration, especially when it is caused in violent conditions. The research aims to explore the forms of transnational engagement around the death of Senegalese migrants in Europe. Starting from the repatriation of bodies and the management of survivors' pensions, the thesis asks the main question: how do the living organize and negotiate when faced with the death of Senegalese migrants in Europe? To answer these questions, this work is based on a multi-sited ethnography (Marcus, 1995; Falzon, 2016) conducted between October 2018 and September 2021, among fifteen cities in Belgium, Spain and Senegal and through participant observation, 75 semi-structured interviews and a virtual ethnography. Utilizing the literature touching upon death in migration (among others, Chaïb, 2000, Lestage, 2012, Kobelinsky 2021a), legitimacy, moral economy (among others, Thompson, 1971; Nachi, 2015; Lacroix, 2019), transnational social protection (among others, Yeates, 2008, Amelina et al 2012, Lafleur and Vintila, 2020 a, b, c), I propose, in turn, a new conceptual approach. The main argument defended in this thesis is that different actors mobilize at different scales for and through deaths in migration. That is to say, to grant, control and access the economic, political and moral resources necessary to managing the repatriation of bodies and survivors' pensions. The main concepts that guide this thesis and support my argument are those of transnational thanatic moral economy, transnational thanatic authority, very bad death in migration and post-mortem transnational social protection. The thesis is divided into six chapters: one theoretical (I), one methodological (II) and four empirical. These make it possible, in turn, to answer specific research questions, in the light of the conceptual approach adopted. They are organized from the forms of temporalities linked to the practices followed. We will first follow the transnational management of the repatriation of bodies from Europe (III and IV), then address, after death and in Senegal, the administration of the arrival of remains (V) and finally, the transnational management of survivors' pensions (VI). The thesis culminates with general conclusions, some appendices and the bibliography.






Lecturer (University of Liège, CEDEM, LASC)




CNRS Research Fellow (SciencesPo Centre de Recherches Internationales)



Jean-Michel LAFLEUR

Deputy Director of the Centre d'Études de l'Ethnicité et des Migrations and Senior Researcher FRS-FNRS (University of Liège)

Other jury members


Françoise LESTAGE

Professor Emeritus (Université Paris Cité - URMIS)



Aly Tandian

Professeur Titulaire des Universités, CAMES Director, Laboratoire d'Études et Recherches sur le Genre, l'Environnement, la Religion et les Migrations (Université Gaston Berger de Saint-Louis, GERM)


A live transmission will be broadcast via Youtube

Further information:



Félicien de Heusch

felicien de heusch these site-VERTICAL

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