Skip to main content
Cover for The Big Gamble

The Big Gamble

The Migration of Eritreans to Europe

Milena Belloni


List Price: 34.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


A free open access ebook is available upon publication. Learn more at

Tens of thousands of Eritreans make perilous voyages across Africa and the Mediterranean Sea every year. Why do they risk their lives to reach European countries where so many more hardships await them? By visiting family homes in Eritrea and living with refugees in camps and urban peripheries across Ethiopia, Sudan, and Italy, Milena Belloni untangles the reasons behind one of the most under-researched refugee populations today. Balancing encounters with refugees and their families, smugglers, and visa officers, The Big Gamble contributes to ongoing debates about blurred boundaries between forced and voluntary migration, the complications of transnational marriages, the social matrix of smuggling, and the role of family expectations, emotions, and values in migrants’ choices of destinations.

Praise For The Big Gamble: The Migration of Eritreans to Europe

"The book is not only a joy to read but has also a very original research design, but it is a must-read for those who study migration motivations."
— International Migration

"Belloni’s book offers an incredibly rich and insightful analysis, highlighting the importance of analysing migration as a cumulative process, rather than a one-off decision."
— Ethnic and Racial Studies

University of California Press, 9780520298705, 242pp.

Publication Date: December 17, 2019

About the Author

Milena Belloni is a sociologist at the University of Antwerp. Her doctoral research on Eritrean migration received the 2016 IMISCOE Award. Belloni has published in the Journal of Refugee Studies and the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.