While the Nigerian brotherhoods have become increasingly prominent in the media given the criminal threat they are said to represent, they have not been the subject of any field research in Nigeria or Europe. This media coverage is fueling a growing confusion between the legal and police categorizations that are used to define these brotherhoods and the pan-African practices and discourses of solidarity and emancipation that they promote. The socio-historical approach developed in this study makes it possible to put into perspective the global expansion of confraternities since the 2000s. It offers another perspective on the role of these secret societies and their inclusion in political economies and different territories. In Europe, the Nigerian confraternities are first and foremost social institutions for the youth and the diasporas. They ensure the reproduction of the power of traditional and political elites abroad by capturing incomes linked to migration (remittances), and therefore play a key role in the production of a form of globalization of Nigerian society from below. They participate in the establishment of moral and social institutions from the south of Nigeria in Europe. Behind a discourse of empowerment and solidarity, the confraternities are thus a transnational network which perpetuates a conservative order, a social hierarchy and the inequalities which they help to naturalize.
The political determination of the Mediterranean border of the European Union seen from the perspective of the Southern European countries (Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta) illustrates the symbolic and political importance for these nations of maintaining control of the border. It has a significant impact on the types of controls that are enacted and the interplay between national and European decisions. Placing this question on the agenda brings to light a Mediterranean perspective regarding the exterior borders of the European Union that is largely determined by the conditions of integration of the different countries into the Schengen area. This new border regime is the result of complex political games and is seen as a security issue. The actual set of controls seems to be less planned and legal-rational than simply erratic and the result of tensions between internal tactics, nation state strategies and attempts at bringing within the ring of EU.