Winners of the 6th Border Criminologies Dissertation Prize

We are proud to announce the winners of the sixth Border Criminologies Masters Dissertation/Thesis Prize, who will receive £200 and £100 worth of Routledge books. 

Border Criminologies seeks to support early career researchers working on the intersections between border control and criminal justice. From a strong list  entries, the competition panel, consisting of academics from the Border Criminologies Network identified the following winners:


Grace Lee, winner, "Prisoners in their own country: A cultural criminological study of International Megan’s Law and its impacts on U.S. registrant mobility"


Grace Lee headshot

Grace Lee is a Senior Policy Analyst with the Government of Canada, interested in modern securitization processes and digital responses to global disorders. She completed an MA in Global Criminology at Utrecht University, fully funded by the Utrecht Excellence Scholarship. Her undergraduate degree was in International Relations and Criminology at the University of Toronto. 

In 2016, the US passed the International Megan’s Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advance Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders (IML), marking an unprecedented shift of domestic sex offence policy into the international arena. IML required all U.S. persons convicted of sex offences against minors (PCSOMs or registrants) to register their travels, obtain marked passports, and have notifications on them sent abroad to foreign countries. This thesis explores the law’s impacts on the mobility of U.S. registrants through a cultural criminological approach. Using media discourse analysis, online ethnography, and semi-structured interviews, it focused on the perspectives of registrants absent from the existing literature. The research revealed a wide gulf between the government discourse on IML and registrants’ experiences of the law. Specifically, registrants challenged the popular media’s legitimization of the law, highlighting the IML’s systemic discrepancies, flawed design, and harmful effects on their personal lives. These accounts demonstrated the punitive new penology logics at the core of the law, as well as the risks of the IML system as a stigmatizing form of pre-emptive mobility governance. They also demonstrated that IML negatively impacted registrants’ mobility across five dimensions: legally, bureaucratically, societally, subjectively, and relationally. In conclusion, studying IML reinforced that the U.S. sex offence apparatus continues to progress towards more unforgiving and counterproductive ends. At the same time, thislatest integration of domestic crime control databases with international mobility control databases exemplifies a growing crimmigration control industry presenting new dangers of grave concern


Gianna Eckert, runner up, (In)tolerated in Germany? - The biopolitical governmentality of the framework of tolerated stay 

Gianna Eckert

Gianna is a PhD student at the University of Bristol Law School. Her research is concerned with deportation practices and their human rights implications. In particular, her PhD project investigates the regulations and policies applicable to migrants whose deportation cannot be enforced due to persisting legal and practical barriers. Focusing on the UK and Germany, the project explores how each country manages cases of protracted ‘unreturnability’ from a socio-legal perspective. Her research is especially interested in discerning the role of indirect deportation enforcement – i.e. measures designed to indirectly induce migrants' return.

Gianna holds an LLM in International Law from the University of Exeter (Distinction) and an MSc in Global Migration from University College London (Distinction).

Prior to commencing her PhD, Gianna worked as a Schuman trainee at the European Parliament’s Research Service, focusing on EU asylum policies and conducted research into SOGI asylum adjudication as a research assistant at UCL. Alongside her PhD studies, Gianna is an editor for the IMISCOE PhD blog and a volunteer caseworker for a UK based charity, which supports asylum seekers and migrants in immigration detention.

Only a fraction of irregular migrants actually gets deported from the EU – an issue which prominently features in political debate and media reports. Yet, we tend to know less about what happens to these individuals once their removal has failed.

This paper critically investigates Germany’s approach to managing the presence of rejected asylum seekers whose removal has been prevented by legal or practical issues (i.e. missing identification documents). Faced with the impossibility of enforcing deportation, immigration authorities in Germany may grant ‘tolerated stay’, which temporarily postpones removal proceedings. During this period of deferred removal, tolerated migrants have access to a number of public services, including healthcare. However, from a legal perspective tolerated migrants continue residing ‘irregularly’ in the country, as the toleration certificate does not amount to leave to remain. Recent figures suggest 247,290 ‘tolerated’ migrants lived in Germany in 2022.

This paper investigates the janus-faced nature of the system of statutory toleration, as it analyses its rationalities of governance through the lens of minimalist biopolitical governmentality. Its findings challenge the framing of tolerated stay as a ‘benevolent’ approach towards situations of unreturnability and unmask its contribution to the systematic marginalisation of tolerated migrants. In particular, the discussion highlights how the system of tolerated stay becomes involved in the biopolitical ‘ordering’, ‘othering’ and disciplining of migrants.  

The paper argues that these effects are enabled through offering ‚minimalist care‘ to tolerated migrants, which brings them within the purview of the authorities. In this way, tolerated migrants may be provided with the bare necessities, yet also remain subjugated to the position of the liminal outsider with limited chances of building a genuine future in Germany.