We are proud to announce the winners of the first Border Criminologies Masters Dissertation/Thesis Prize. The winner and the runner up 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 shortlist of 6 entries, the competition panel, consisting of academics from the Border Criminologies Network identified the following winners:

Zoe Roberts, winner, University of Cambridge, Information exchange between smugglers and migrants: an analysis of online interactions in Facebook groups. You can read the dissertation here.

Human smuggling is an imperfect and inconsistent service due to its illicit nature, which means that problems can arise for all those involved; for smugglers the problem is how to cultivate and communicate their reputation as a bona fide smuggler, and for migrants it is just difficult to know whom to trust. The following study is an exploration of how Arabic-speaking smugglers and migrants interact with each other using the medium of Facebook. Taking a transactional approach as the theoretical framework, this study analyses the concerns raised in this online discourse, the information shared, and the ways in which both sides deal with the challenges they face. The diverse content across the 10 Facebook groups in the sample indicate firstly that smugglers who are concerned about their reputation of trustworthiness use the technological facilities of Facebook to help signal this to prospective clients, such as images, screenshots, and videos. Also posting in these groups, migrants pose many kinds of questions to the online community as a way of informing themselves. Other input from migrants is to give feedback on smugglers, which is positive or negative depending on their experience, as part of a mechanism driven by information sharers. The content of these groups further indicates that the smuggling market, at least online, is competitive and there are cases of specialisation in terms of the services provided.

Martha Eade, runner up, University of Glasgow, Framing the Jungle: A Critical Analysis of the 'Calais Crisis' in the Scottish Press.

This Master’s dissertation discusses the representations of the “Calais Crisis” in the Scottish Press between June 2015, the beginning of what came to be known as the “Summer of Discontent” to June 2016, time at which this research was conducted. The Calais Jungle has long played a pivotal role in British media discourse as a cornerstone for debates and narratives on national identity and belonging, border tensions, immigration and asylum policies as well as Britain’s place within the EU. However since 2014, it has garnered particularly divisive and hostile attention from British media and politics. It has been a stage of choice for what De Genova coins as a “border spectacle” whereby authorities orchestrate highly mediatised performances of apparent control over marginalised and illegalised spaces and bodies of migration through the destruction of campsites and the forcible removal of individuals. While there has been much well-deserved attention on the role British media has had over the years in framing and diffusing narratives and portrayals of migration and national identity as well as its impact on policy-making and public opinion, this has been surprisingly focused on London based media and regional perspectives, as this dissertation shows, over these matters remain widely understudied. This analysis of the Calais crisis from the perspective of the Scottish press shows that the coverage does in fact differ quite markedly from the rest of the British press and merits to be further investigated. This research was conducted combining Frame Theory with Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to identify rhetorical, discursive, stylistic and narrative strategies that are used by the seven most read Scottish dailies to portray the Calais Jungle and its inhabitants. Concepts such as Agamben’s notions of bare life and state of exception as well as debates on liminality and postcolonialism underpin this study. I first examine the evolution of the image of refugee-ness, progressively framed as a racialised, criminalised, dehumanised Other, followed by an analysis of how the Calais Jungle is framed in the media as a space of border performance and liminality which not reinforces but justifies hostile and a “Us Versus Them” rhetoric. The study reveals that while Scottish-based media does employ similar language patterns and frames as the rest of British press, it does so with a much tamer discourse and covers the issue much less frequently than its English counterparts. In addition, the study reveals that the most consistent and anti-asylum coverage in Scottish dailies is widely under the monopoly of the Scottish-editions of English tabloids tending to confirm hypotheses that anti-asylum agendas appear to correspond to interests derived from London, including nationalist and racializing discourses that would otherwise not be as easily accepted within a Scottish context.

Congratulations to the winners! We would like to thank all those who submitted their work and hope that they will contribute to the Border Criminologies blog.

We will soon be announcing next year’s Prize. Stay tuned!