We are proud to announce the winners of the fourth Border Criminologies Masters Dissertation/Thesis Prize. Competition was very strong this year so we have two winners and one runner-up.The winners 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:

Claudia McHardy, joint-winner, University of Oxford, Assuming Risk: New Zealand’s Returning Offenders Act 2015.  

Australia’s detention-deportation regime is setting the agenda for New Zealand’s domestic criminal justice system, with implications for criminological understandings of ‘crimmigration’ and ‘bordered penality’. In response to recent changes in Australian migration law which have seen an increased number  of deportations to Aotearoa New Zealand, the New Zealand government introduced legislation, the Returning Offenders (Management and Information) (“ROMI”) Act 2015, which created a monitoring regime for citizens returned to New Zealand following a criminal conviction in an overseas jurisdiction. While ostensibly modelled from domestic parole arrangements for people released from prison in New Zealand, in practice the regime entails a greater level of restriction while offering less in the way of legal protection. That the ROMI Act has for the most part escaped criminological attention is a gap in the literature which this essay begins to fill. The analysis draws together political discourse, policy documents, court cases and legislation to arrive at an understanding of the Act as an extension of the Australian regime. The sentence an individual is subject to in Australia is extended, both geographically and temporally, creating multiple punishments for this particular group of offenders. The women and men entangled in this cross-border penality are not only banished from Australia but experience ongoing social and political marginalisation upon their return to New Zealand, where they access only a conditional citizenship because of their uncertain membership as both “criminals” and de facto “aliens”. By treating returning New Zealanders as threatening outsiders to be contained, rather than vulnerable people to be supported, the New Zealand state also extends the risk logics underpinning the Australian regime, revealing a new dimension to the nexus between borders, crime and citizenship. Although the ROMI Act is novel, the regime conforms to the racialised patterns of exclusion and criminalisation which have persisted in Aotearoa New Zealand since colonisation.

Vidya Ramachandran, joint-winner, University of Oxford, A Logic of Subordination: (Post)colonial Women and the British Immigration System

In 2012, the UK government announced its intention to introduce a ‘hostile environment’ for migrants. Its mission was simple: precaritise migrants’ everyday lives through an unparalleled expansion of internal border controls, and thereby encourage their voluntary departure. However, this regime does not greatly depart from what came before it. In the latter half of the twentieth century, UK immigration and nationality law underwent several rapid and significant changes. Many of these were provoked by the threat of migration by non-white subjects from Britain’s former colonies. In the decades that followed, these (post)colonial peoples were stripped of their British subject status, and their formerly unrestricted rights of entry and stay in the UK. (Post)colonial women have their own place within this history: continuous scandals regarding invasive virginity tests, sexual examinations and mistreatment in immigration  detention highlight that women’s bodies have long been marked out for additional scrutiny – and brutality – at the border. Today, women carry the most disadvantageous immigration statuses, which bestow few rights and entitlements. Many of the challenges that (post)colonial migrant women commonly face in Britain – from gender-based violence, to destitution and poor health – can be traced to the constraints of carrying a temporary or insecure immigration status under the hostile environment. Still, these lived experiences certainly seem at odds with the values of a state that outwardly prides itself on its commitment to equality before the law and universal human rights. How, then, can (post)colonial women’s experiences in Britain be reconciled with the normative political project of the British state? Through case studies of migrant wives and women asylum seekers, this dissertation answers this question by advancing a ‘logic of subordination’, that explains (post)colonial women’s precarity in Britain as a process of protracted colonial dispossession. It builds on the work of postcolonial and decolonial migration scholarship, conceptualising Britain as a space of enhanced opportunity and capability produced by the European colonial project, and immigration controls as a means of perpetuating a continuing colonial ethic by depriving (post)colonial peoples’ access to the advantage acquired through their subjugation. By centring the British state in its analysis, this dissertation contributes a portrait of Britain as a (post)colonial society that ascribes differential value to human lives. In doing so, it seeks to pave the way for responses to migration that consider questions of justice, accountability and redress for historical and continuing injustices.


Frances Timberlake, runner-up, SOAS, Experimenting, Exporting and Outsourcing the ‘Hostile Environment’: A study of immigration control at the UK-France frontier.  

Despite increasing academic interest in the impacts of externalised borders in recent years, the UK’s ‘exportation’ of its border controls into France has received relatively little attention. A set of bilateral legal agreements implementing juxtaposed controls on British and French territory, have over the years resulted in a blockage of prospective asylum seekers on the northern French coastline, faced with extremely hostile living conditions, structural violence and a denial of access to UK asylum procedures. Since the writing of this paper, the situation has only degraded. Tightened border controls and security measures, detailed here, have resulted in a shift towards new, increasingly dangerous irregular crossing routes from France to the UK, in particular by small boat across the Channel. Whilst there has been a spike in UK media coverage of this, there has been little corresponding analysis of the legal agreements that have created a zone of illegality and consequent presumption of criminality. At a time in which the UK is attempting to renegotiate its immigration powers in relation to its European neighbours and take a strong stance against irregular migration across the Channel, it is particularly important to look at the legal infrastructure behind the UK’s implementation of its border controls. This dissertation argues that the juxtaposed controls at the UK-France border act as modes of UK immigration control through facilitating practices of deterrence and removal, prefiguring the domestic ‘Hostile Environment’ in 2012. During the writing of this paper these practices were also being expanded and have since continued to take on new forms, such as the increased expedited removals of those having crossed the Channel from France, and the re-introduction of fingerprinting in the UK ‘Control Zones’ in northern France. The dissertation analyses the intersection of border enforcement, criminal powers and financial investment that have been engendered by these juxtaposed control agreements, and reflects critically on UK legal accountability for the border region in light of its extraterritorial administrative, financial and legal control in France.
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.