Growing numbers of irregular migrants are being identified in countries across the European-Mediterranean border who in a context of EU migration control have sold their kidney to facilitate arrival into Europe. While preliminary research suggests that legal businesses including hospitals, transplant clinics and their staff are commonly involved in facilitating illegal transplants and in inflicting exploitation, these features have not been studied in the context of migrants’ kidney sales. The aims of this project are to generate knowledge on how, where and by who migrants’ kidney sales take place and to elucidate the factors that induce their exploitation.
This project addresses the following research questions:
- What are the contexts and conditions from which migrants consider selling their kidney?
- Where and how do migrants’ kidney sales take place?
- Who are involved in facilitating their kidney sales, and why?
- Where and how do migrant kidney sellers experience exploitation?
- Which criminal, socio-economic and/or legal factors contribute to their exploitation?
- How do migrants’ kidney sales relate to the EU’s migration control regime?
This is a multidisciplinary, ethnographic research project on the human organ trade that runs until the end of 2025. Qualitative fieldwork will be locally conducted across Europe and its border regions (eg The Netherlands, Greece, Turkey, Italy and Egypt. Specific places include Lesbos, Samos, Lampedusa, Athens, Thessaloniki, Izmir, Istanbul, Cairo. Locations include shelters for undocumented migrants/refugees, migrant communities, detention centers, refugee camps, asylum centers, churches, hospitals, transplant clinics, etc.
Research will take place in collaboration with local, national and international governmental and non-governmental organizations including MSF, UNHCR, MDM, etc. Developing and maintaining a long-term network with relevant organizations across the Euro-Mediterranean region forms a substantial part of this project.
Erasmus MC is one of the largest kidney transplantation centers in Europe, which performs 150-200 kidney transplantations annually. The section Nephrology and Transplantation of the Dept. of Internal Medicine is involved in kidney transplant patient care, research and education, and is part of the recently established Erasmus MC Transplant Institute. We offer a dynamic team of transplant professionals including postdocs and PhD students working on medical, ethical, legal and psychosocial aspects of organ transplantation.
Throughout the project we collaborate with the Department of Law, Society and Crime of Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). This department is one of the four departments from the Erasmus School of Law and forms the institutional home for academics from Criminology, Criminal Law, Health Law and Sociology of Law. Its researchers focus amongst others on understanding and explaining crime, deviance and insecurity as well as the different ways society deals with and acts on crime and insecurity in a global context. You will be dividing your working hours between both departments.
Qualifications and skills
- We are looking for a highly-motivated researcher with a curious mindset to complete our team. You are eager to learn and you are comfortable working in an academic research environment within a research group as well as working autonomous.
- You have completed a master’s in a discipline that is relevant to this project such as criminology, anthropology, sociology, public health and/or law. You have demonstrable experience in ethnographic fieldwork especially regarding mobile, vulnerable and marginalized groups. You also have well-developed qualitative data analysis skills including the use of qualitative data analysis software (ATLAS.ti, NVivo).
- Next to doing fieldwork, publishing (international) academic articles, presenting research results at conferences and writing periodic newsletters through the project website constitutes an important part of your work.
- You have excellent networking and communication skills and you are happiest when working in a team. You are able to handle ethically-sensitive topics such as kidney sales.
- You are willing to travel to other countries for longer periods of time (up to 4 weeks). You are ready to relocate to The Netherlands as your main residence for the time of your contract.
Before you apply please check our conditions for employment.
For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Frederike Ambagtsheer, Assistant Professor, +31(0) 617354137 or Prof. dr. Richard Staring Erasmus School of Law, +31 (0)10 408 88 07.
No agencies please.