About the CRIMTANG project – University of Copenhagen

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About the CRIMTANG project

Drugs. Photo: Colourbox

Linked to terrorism, moral breakdown and societal decay, transnational organized crime (TOC) has come to embody current global anxieties as a figure of fear and cause of disquiet. TOC is currently estimated to generate $870 billion a year (some 7 per cent of global trade), and the smuggling of people and drugs are the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world. But despite its central position on the social and political radar, our knowledge of TOC remains limited, and its underlying socio-cultural logics and practices remain under-researched.

An ethnographic and transnational strategy

The CRIMTANG (Criminal Entanglements) project attempts to fill this knowledge gap by working according to a research strategy that is transnational and ethnographic in design and thus attuned to following the human flows and formations of TOCThe project explores the illegal and overlapping flows of migrants and drugs from North-West Africa into Europe, following a key trafficking trajectory stretching from Tangiers to Barcelona, Paris and beyond. The project sheds light on the actual empirical processes in operation at different points along this trafficking route, whilst also developing new theoretical and methodological apparatuses for apprehending TOC that can be exported and applied to other regions and contexts. 

The research team

CRIMTANG comprises a cross-disciplinary research team of anthropologists, criminologists and political scientists, and builds on their prior experience of the people, regions and languages under study. Furthermore, the project gathers together some of the world’s leading scholars and institutions to globally connect the European research environment on ethnographic criminology and TOC. 


The project is anchored at the University of Copenhagen, but builds on cooperation between the University of Copenhagen, the EHESS in Paris, the University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Los Angeles, Oxford University, and the University of Moulay Ismaïl in Meknes.


The foundational ethical code of non-maleficence requires the team to shape its methods and ethical practices in a way that protects the already vulnerable subjects we are working with. All of the project’s activities follow the Code of Ethics drawn up by the AAA, and the project will adhere to the national guidelines for ethics in humanistic and social scientific research when doing fieldwork.


The project is funded by the European Research Council as a Consolidator Grant of 1,999,909 €.


Start date: 2018-02-01
End date: 2023-01-31